The impact of the Mid-Pleistocene Transition on the composition of submerged reefs of the Maui Nui Complex, Hawaii

Faichney, Iain D.E., Webster, Jody M., Clague, David A., Braga, Juan C., Renema, Willem, and Potts, Donald C. (2011) The impact of the Mid-Pleistocene Transition on the composition of submerged reefs of the Maui Nui Complex, Hawaii. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 299 (3-4). pp. 493-506.

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The submarine reef terraces (L1–L12) of the Maui Nui Complex (MNC—the islands of Lanai, Molokai, Maui and Kahoolawe) in Hawaii provide a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of climate and sea level change on coral reef growth by examining changes in reef development through the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (900–800 ka). We present an analysis of the biological and sedimentary composition of the reefs that builds directly on recently published chronological and morphological data. We define nine distinct limestone facies and place them in a spatial and stratigraphic context within 12 reef terraces using ROV and submersible observations. These include oolitic, two coral reef, two coralline algal nodule, algal crust, hemi-pelagic mud, bioclastic and peloidal mud facies. These facies characterise environments from high energy shallow water coral reef crests to low energy non-reefal deep-water settings. Combining the bottom observations and sedimentary facies data, we report a shift in the observed sedimentary facies across the submerged reefs of the MNC from dominant shallow coral reef facies on the deep reefs to coralline algae dominated exposed outcrop morphology on the shallower reefs. We argue that this shift is a reflection of the change in period and amplitude of glacioeustatic sea level cycles (41 kyr and 60–70 m to 100 kyr and 120 m) during the Mid- Pleistocene Transition (MPT, ~800 ka), coupled with a slowing in the subsidence rate of the complex. The growth of stratigraphically thick coral reef units on the deep Pre-MPT reefs was due to the rapid subsidence of the substrate and the shorter, smaller amplitude sea level cycles allowing re-occupation and coral growth on successive cycle low-stands. Longer, larger amplitude sea level cycles after the MPT combined with greater vertical stability at this time produced conditions conducive to deep-water coralline algae growth which veneered the shallower terraces. Additionally, we compare reef development both within the MNC, and between the MNC and Hawaii. Finally we suggest that climatic forcings such as sea-surface temperature and oceanographic currents may also have influenced the distribution of coral species within the sample suite, e.g., the disappearance of the Acropora genus from the Maui Nui Complex in the Middle Pleistocene.

Item ID: 15286
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-616X
Keywords: Mid-Pleistocene Transition, Maui Nui, coral reef development, sedimentary facies, Pleistocene sea level change
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2011 07:05
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040305 Marine Geoscience @ 50%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040310 Sedimentology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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