New constraints on the spatial distribution and morphology of the Halimeda bioherms of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

McNeil, Mardi A., Webster, Jody M., Beaman, Robin J. and Graham, Trevor L. (2016) New constraints on the spatial distribution and morphology of the Halimeda bioherms of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Coral Reefs, 35 4: 1-13. doi:10.1007/s00338-016-1492-2


Author McNeil, Mardi A.
Webster, Jody M.
Beaman, Robin J.
Graham, Trevor L.
Title New constraints on the spatial distribution and morphology of the Halimeda bioherms of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Formatted title
New constraints on the spatial distribution and morphology of the Halimeda bioherms of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Journal name Coral Reefs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0722-4028
1432-0975
Publication date 2016-08-24
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00338-016-1492-2
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 35
Issue 4
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Subject 1104 Aquatic Science
Abstract Halimeda bioherms occur as extensive geological structures on the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. We present the most complete, high-resolution spatial mapping of the northern GBR Halimeda bioherms, based on new airborne lidar and multibeam echosounder bathymetry data. Our analysis reveals that bioherm morphology does not conform to the previous model of parallel ridges and troughs, but is far more complex than previously thought. We define and describe three morphological sub-types: reticulate, annulate, and undulate, which are distributed in a cross-shelf pattern of reduced complexity from east to west. The northern GBR bioherms cover an area of 6095 km, three times larger than the original estimate, exceeding the area and volume of calcium carbonate in the adjacent modern shelf-edge barrier reefs. We have mapped a 1740 km bioherm complex north of Raine Island in the Cape York region not previously recorded, extending the northern limit by more than 1° of latitude. Bioherm formation and distribution are controlled by a complex interaction of outer-shelf geometry, regional and local currents, coupled with the morphology and depth of continental slope submarine canyons determining the delivery of cool, nutrient-rich water upwelling through inter-reef passages. Distribution and mapping of Halimeda bioherms in relation to Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority bioregion classifications and management zones are inconsistent and currently poorly defined due to a lack of high-resolution data not available until now. These new estimates of bioherm spatial distribution and morphology have implications for understanding the role these geological features play as structurally complex and productive inter-reef habitats, and as calcium carbonate sinks which record a complete history of the Holocene post-glacial marine transgression in the northern GBR.
Formatted abstract
Halimeda bioherms occur as extensive geological structures on the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. We present the most complete, high-resolution spatial mapping of the northern GBR Halimeda bioherms, based on new airborne lidar and multibeam echosounder bathymetry data. Our analysis reveals that bioherm morphology does not conform to the previous model of parallel ridges and troughs, but is far more complex than previously thought. We define and describe three morphological sub-types: reticulate, annulate, and undulate, which are distributed in a cross-shelf pattern of reduced complexity from east to west. The northern GBR bioherms cover an area of 6095 km2, three times larger than the original estimate, exceeding the area and volume of calcium carbonate in the adjacent modern shelf-edge barrier reefs. We have mapped a 1740 km2 bioherm complex north of Raine Island in the Cape York region not previously recorded, extending the northern limit by more than 1° of latitude. Bioherm formation and distribution are controlled by a complex interaction of outer-shelf geometry, regional and local currents, coupled with the morphology and depth of continental slope submarine canyons determining the delivery of cool, nutrient-rich water upwelling through inter-reef passages. Distribution and mapping of Halimeda bioherms in relation to Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority bioregion classifications and management zones are inconsistent and currently poorly defined due to a lack of high-resolution data not available until now. These new estimates of bioherm spatial distribution and morphology have implications for understanding the role these geological features play as structurally complex and productive inter-reef habitats, and as calcium carbonate sinks which record a complete history of the Holocene post-glacial marine transgression in the northern GBR.
Keyword Geomorphology
Habitat complexity
Halimeda bioherm
Holocene
Reticulate
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID DP1094001
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Earth Sciences Publications
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