Benthic foraminifera: their importance to future reef island resilience
Dawson, John L., Hua, Quan, and Smithers, Scott G. (2012) Benthic foraminifera: their importance to future reef island resilience. Proceedings of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium. 12th International Coral Reef Symposium , 9-13 July 2012, Cairns, QLD, Australia , pp. 1-7.
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The provenance, age and redistribution of sediments across Raine Reef (11°35'28"S 144°02'17"E), northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are described. Sediments of both the reef flat and sand cay beaches are composed predominantly of benthic foraminifera (35.2% and 41.5% respectively), which is a common occurrence throughout the Pacific region. The major contemporary sediment supply to the island was identified as Baculogypsina sphaerulata, a relatively large (1-2 mm exclusive of spines) benthic foraminifera living on the turf algae close to the reef periphery, and responsible for beach sand nourishment. Radiometric ages of foraminiferal tests of ranging taphonomic preservation (pristine to severely abraded) included in surficial sediments collected across the reef flat were remarkably young (typically <60 years). Results indicate rapid transport and/or breakdown of sand with a minimal storage time on the reef (likely <102 years), inferring a tight temporal link between the reef island and sediment production on the surrounding reef. This study demonstrates the critical need for further research on the precise residence times of the major reef sediment components and transport pathways, which are fundamental to predicting future island resilience.
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