From corals to canyons: The Great Barrier Reef margin
January 01, 2008

Authors: Webster, J.M., Beaman, R.J., Bridge, T., Davies, P.J., Byrne, M., Williams, S., Manning, P., Pizarro, O., Thornborough, K., Woolsey, E., Thomas, A., Tudhope, S.

Year: 2008

Publication: EOS 89(24): 217-218


The significance of submerged fossil coral reefs as important archives of abrupt global sea level rise and climate change has been confirmed by investigations in the Caribbean [Fairbanks, 1989] and the Indo-Pacific (see Montaggioni [2005] for a summary) and by recent Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) activities in Tahiti [Camoin et al., 2007]. Similar submerged (40-130 meters) reef structures are preserved along the margin of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), but they have not yet been systematically studied.

The submerged reefs have the potential to provide critical new information about the nature of past global sea level and climate variability and about the response of the GBR to these past and perhaps future environmental changes [Beaman et al., 2008]. Equally important for GBR Marine Park managers is information about the role of the reefs as habitats and substrates for modern biological communities.

Here we summarize the highlights and broader implications of a September-October 2007 expedition on the R/V Southern Surveyor (Australian Marine National Facility, voyage SS07/2007) to investigate the shelf edge, upper slope, and submarine canyons along the GBR margin.

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