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New constraints on the origin of the Australian Great Barrier Reef: results from an international project of deep coring

Record type: Article

Two new boreholes provide the first direct evidence of the age of the Australian Great Barrier Reef. An inner shelf sequence (total depth, 86 m; basal age = 210 ± 40 ka) comprises a dominantly siliciclastic unit (thickness 52–86 m), overlain by four carbonate units (total thickness 0–34 m). A shelf-edge and slope sequence (total depth 210 m) reveals three major sections: (1) a lower section of resedimented flows deposited on a lower slope, (2) a mid-section including intervals of corals, rhodoliths, and calcarenites with low- angle graded laminae, and (3) an upper section of four shelf- margin coral-reef units separated by karst surfaces bearing paleosols. Sr isotope and magnetostratigraphic data indicate that the central Great Barrier Reef is relatively young (post Brühnes-Matuyama boundary time), and our best estimate for the onset of reef growth on the outer barrier system is ca. 600 ± 280 ka. This date suggests that reef initiation may have been related to the onset of full eccentricity-dominated glacio-eustatic sea-level oscillation as inferred from large-amplitude “saw-tooth? 100 k.y. ?18O cycles (after marine isotope stage 17), rather than to some regional environmental parameter. A major question raised by our study is whether reef margins globally display a similar growth history. The possibility of a global reef initiation event has important implications for basin to shelf partitioning of CaCO3, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and global temperature change during Quaternary time.

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Citation

Alexander, I., Wilson, P.A. and Cooper, M.J. (2001) New constraints on the origin of the Australian Great Barrier Reef: results from an international project of deep coring Geology, 29, (6), pp. 483-486. (doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2001)029<0483:NCOTOO>2.0.CO;2).

More information

Published date: June 2001
Keywords: INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM FOR GREAT BARRIER REEF DRILLING, CARBONATE SEDIMENTS, DIAGENESIS, REEFS, SEA LEVEL, GEOLOGY

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 7947
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/7947
ISSN: 0091-7613
PURE UUID: f021a2b9-1c8d-4ac3-8999-a21a23b052d0
ORCID for M.J. Cooper: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2130-2759

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 10 Aug 2004
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 17:13

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Contributors

Author: I. Alexander
Author: P.A. Wilson
Author: M.J. Cooper ORCID iD

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