A field-based technique for measuring sediment flux on coral reefs: application to turbid reefs on the Great Barrier Reef
Browne, Nicola K., Smithers, Scott G., Perry, Chris T., and Ridd, Peter V. (2012) A field-based technique for measuring sediment flux on coral reefs: application to turbid reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. Journal of Coastal Research, 28 (5). pp. 1247-1262.
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Inshore turbid reefs on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are exposed to high and fluctuating sediment loads normally associated with poor reef growth, but many have high coral cover (>30%) and diversity (>50 species). Previous assessments of sediment regimes on these reefs have largely relied on sediment trap data, which overestimate sedimentation rates and may not accurately reflect sedimentary conditions. A new approach, based on paired sediment trays, is described here that allows the sedimentation rate, sediment resuspension, and total mass of mobile sediments transported on to and off of a site per unit time and area (termed the two-way total sediment flux) to be measured or calculated. The sediment trays were deployed on Middle Reef and Paluma Shoals, two inshore turbid reefs on the GBR where the two-way total sediment flux ranged from 34 g/m²/d in protected reef habitats to more than 640 g/m²/d in higher-energy settings. Mean sedimentation rates, calculated using data from four sites across these reefs, of less than 122 g/m²/d are considerably lower than published rates estimated for nearby coral reefs, largely because sediment traps limit sediment resuspension. At each tray installation, sediments were collected every 4 to 6 weeks to measure variations in net sedimentation through the year, and resuspension rates were calculated by comparing 100 g of preanalysed sediments placed on trays at deployment to sediments recovered 2 weeks later. These data demonstrate that despite high sediment delivery rates, net sedimentation may still be relatively low and potentially less of a threat to benthic communities on turbid reefs than previously assumed. Sediment trays provide a comprehensive assessment of sediment regimes that, together with ecological assessments of coral cover, improve our understanding of the sedimentary pressures affecting inshore turbid reefs and their ability to tolerate sedimentation.
|Item Type:||Article (Refereed Research - C1)|
|Keywords:||sedimentation; sediment resuspension; turbidity; community assemblages|
|Date Deposited:||18 Oct 2012 02:39|
|FoR Codes:||04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0405 Oceanography > 040503 Physical Oceanography @ 100%|
|SEO Codes:||96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961102 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 100%|
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