Holocene reef growth in Torres Strait

Woodroffe, C.D., Kennedy, D.M., Hopley, D., Rasmussen, C.E., and Smithers, S.G. (2000) Holocene reef growth in Torres Strait. Marine Geology, 170 (3-4). pp. 331-346.

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Abstract

The platform and fringing reefs of Torres Strait are morphologically similar to reefs of the northern Great Barrier Reef to the south, except that several are elongated in the direction of the strong tidal currents between the Coral Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Surface and subsurface investigations and radiocarbon dating on Yam, Warraber and Hammond Islands reveal that the initiation and mode of Holocene reef growth reflect antecedent topography and sea-level history. On the granitic Yam Island, fringing reefs have established in some places over a Pleistocene limestone at about 6 m depth around 7000 years BP. Emergent Holocene microatolls of Porites sp. indicate that the reefs have prograded seawards while sea level has fallen gradually from at least 0.8 m above present about 5800 years BP. On the Warraber Island reef platform drilling near the centre indicated a Pleistocene limestone foundation at a depth of about 6 m over which reefs established around 6700 years BP. Reef growth lagged behind that on Yam Island. Microatolls on the mature reef flat indicate that the reef reached sea level around 5300 years BP when the sea was around 0.8–1.0 m above present. On the reef flat on the western side of Hammond Island bedrock was encountered at 7–8 m depth, overlain by terrigenous mud. A progradational reef sequence of only 1–2 m thickness has built seaward over these muds, as sea level has fallen over the past 5800 years. Reef-flat progradation on these reefs is interpreted to have occurred by a series of stepwise buildouts marked by lines of microatolls parallel to the reef crest, marking individual coalescing coral heads. Detrital infill has occurred between these. This pattern of reef progradation is consistent with the radiocarbon dating results from these reefs, and with seismic investigations on the Torres Reefs.

Item ID: 12947
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: microatoll; reef growth; sea level; Torres Strait
ISSN: 1872-6151
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2012 04:55
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040601 Geomorphology and Regolith and Landscape Evolution @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961104 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Marine Environments @ 100%
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