Holocene Great Barrier Reef: sedimentary controls and implications for environmental management

Larcombe, P. (2001) Holocene Great Barrier Reef: sedimentary controls and implications for environmental management. Geological Society Special Publication, 21. pp. 281-294.

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The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most visible biological structures on the Earth's surface visible from space. In the last half-million years, the corals that form the basis of this massive ecosystem have died as sea-levels have fallen during ice ages (down to over 100 m below modern levels) and been reinitiated as they rose again. For the last 8000 years we have been in the most recent phase where corals flourish, and in the future the re e f system as we know it will inevitably die and corals will once more be confine d to a series of geographically restricted refugia. Maximum rates of coral growth and accumulation of calcium carbonate tends to occur during stages where suitable reef substrates are submerged and able to grow upwards unrestricted by water depth-this is likely to occur during the latter stages of each phase of sea-level rise. Coral growth is affected by a range of environmental factors other than sea-level change, including the presence of mobile sediments and water turbidity, but the precise nature of the relationships is yet to be determined for the evolving Holocene reef system or the modern reef. Recent measurements of turbidity and sediment transport at coral reefs have documented far greater levels of turbidity than previously known,.and the presence of coral reefs long having occurred in turbid environments can also be interpreted from the geological record. Geological data, by virtue of providing a temporal record of change is invaluable in assisting environmental management of the reef system by helping to identify potential human impacts on the re e f system. Two examples are the historical occurrence of the crown-of-thorns starfish, and the potential threat from increased sediment input.

Item ID: 13217
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0305-8719
Keywords: coral reefs; dredging; environmental management; Great Barrier Reef; holocene; sea-level; sedimentation
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2017 01:24
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040310 Sedimentology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9601 Air Quality > 960102 Coastal and Estuarine Air Quality @ 100%
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