New constraints on the postglacial shallow water carbonate accumulation in the GBR
February 25, 2022

Authors: Hinestrosa, G., Webster, J.M., Beaman, R.J.

Year: 2022

Publication: New constraints on the postglacial shallow-water carbonate accumulation in the Great Barrier Reef. Scientific Reports 12(924), 1-18. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-04586-w



More accurate global volumetric estimations of shallow-water reef deposits are needed to better inform climate and carbon cycle models. Using recently acquired datasets and International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 325 cores, we calculated shallow-water CaCO3 volumetrics and mass for the Great Barrier Reef region and extrapolated these results globally.

In our estimates, we include deposits that have been neglected in global carbonate budgets: Holocene Halimeda bioherms located on the shelf, and postglacial pre-Holocene (now) drowned coral reefs located on the shelf edge.

Our results show that in the Great Barrier Reef alone, these drowned reef deposits represent ca. 135 Gt CaCO3, comparatively representing 16–20% of the younger Holocene reef deposits. Globally, under plausible assumptions, we estimate the presence of ca. 8100 Gt CaCO3 of Holocene reef deposits, ca. 1500 Gt CaCO3 of drowned reef deposits and ca. 590 Gt CaCO3 of Halimeda shelf bioherms.

Significantly, we found that in our scenarios the periods of pronounced reefal mass accumulation broadly encompass the occurrence of the Younger Dryas and periods of CO2 surge (14.9–14.4 ka, 13.0–11.5 ka) observed in Antarctic ice cores.

Our estimations are consistent with reef accretion episodes inferred from previous global carbon cycle models and with the chronology from reef cores from the shelf edge of the Great Barrier Reef.


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