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Holocene aggradation of the Dry Tortugas coral reef ecosystem

January 1, 2010

Radiometric age dating of reef cores acquired at the Dry Tortugas coral reef ecosystem (DTCRE) was merged with lidar topographic mapping to examine Holocene reef development linked to spatial variation in growth and erosion under the control of sea level. Analysis of variance of lidar topography confirmed the presence of three distinct terraces on all three major DTCRE banks (Loggerhead Bank, Garden Bank, and Pulaski Bank). Reef building on the middle terrace (T2) began atop Pleistocene edifices on Loggerhead Bank by 8.0 ka (thousands of years ago) and on Garden Bank by 7.2 ka at elevations of about −16.0 m and −11.9 m, respectively, relative to present mean sea level. Following this initiation at different elevations, T2 aggraded vertically on both banks at different rates during the early Holocene under foundering conditions until a highstand at 5.2 ka, resulting in a 2.21 m offset in present mean T2 elevation between these banks. Initiation of an upper terrace (T1) occurred on both Loggerhead Bank and Garden Bank in association with sea-level fall to a lowstand at near 4.8 ka. This upper terrace initiated on Garden Bank at about 5.0 ka and then grew upward at rate of 2.5 mm year−1 until approximately 3.8 ka. On Loggerhead Bank, the upper T1 terrace formed after 4.5 ka at a higher vertical aggradation rate of 4.1 mm year−1, but at a lower elevation than on Garden Bank. Terrace T1 aggraded on Loggerhead Bank below the elevation of lowstands during late Holocene sea-level oscillation, and consequently erosion on Loggerhead Bank was minimal and likely limited to the crest of the upper terrace. In contrast, after 3.8 ka terrace T1 on Garden Bank likely tracked sea level and consequently underwent erosion when sea level fell to second, third and fourth lowstands at 3.3, 1.1, and 0.3 ka.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2010
Title Holocene aggradation of the Dry Tortugas coral reef ecosystem
DOI 10.1007/s00338-010-0658-6
Authors J. C. Brock, M. Palaseanu-Lovejoy, R. Z. Poore, A. Nayegandhi, C. W. Wright
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Coral Reefs
Index ID 70037692
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse