Quaternary corals from reefs in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, SE Sulawesi, Indonesia, show similar growth rates to modern corals from the same area
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We have used digital photography, image analysis and measurements in the field to determine the growth rates of Quaternary corals in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, Indonesia, and compared them to growth rates of similar corals in the same area. In the Quaternary deposits it was possible to measure the growth rates of two massive coral genera Porites and Favites. For each genus, the corals reworked from better-illuminated upslope environments had higher growth rates than the in situ fossil corals. The calculated radial growth rates for the in situ Porites are slightly lower than, but of the same order of magnitude as, the modern Porites growing in 10m water depth at Hoga(10.043.34 mmyr11 s.d.; n3) and Kaledupa (15.264.83 mmyr11 s.d.; n3). Sedimentation rates and underwater visibility are inferred to have been similar in the fossil site to that at the modern Kaledupa site. Decreasing light penetration due to increased water depth is inferred to have been a major influence on growth rates. The in situ massive corals with good growth banding are inferred to have grown in a comparable environment to modern Kaledupa and Hoga. The study highlights that it is possible to compare coral growth rates, and their influencing parameters, from modern and well-preserved ancient examples.
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