Coral Reefs

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 555-565

First online:

Holocene evolution of the granite based Lizard Island and MacGillivray Reef systems, Northern Great Barrier Reef

  • Siwan A. ReesAffiliated withNational Oceanography Centre, Southampton Email author 
  • , Bradley N. OpdykeAffiliated withEarth and Marine Sciences Department, Australian National University
  • , Paul A. WilsonAffiliated withNational Oceanography Centre, Southampton
  • , L. Keith FifieldAffiliated withDepartment of Nuclear Physics, RSPhysSE, Australian National University
  • , Vladimir LevchenkoAffiliated withDepartment of Nuclear Physics, RSPhysSE, Australian National University

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Radiocarbon dating of seven drill cores from both the windward Lizard Island fringing reef and the windward and leeward margins of MacGillivray platform reef, Northern Great Barrier Reef Province, reveal the Holocene evolution of these two mid shelf coral reefs. The windward margin at Lizard Island started growing approximately 6,700 calendar years before present (cal yr BP) directly on an assumed granite basement and approached present day sea level approximately 4,000 cal yr BP. Growth of the windward margin at MacGillivray Reef was initiated by 7,600 cal yr BP and approached present day sea level by approximately 5,600 cal yr BP. The leeward margin at MacGillivray was initiated by 8,200 cal yr BP also directly on an assumed granite basement, but only approached sea level relatively recently, between 260 and 80 cal yr BP. None of the cores penetrated the Holocene-Pleistocene unconformity. The absence of Pleistocene reefal deposits, at 15 m depth in the cores from MacGillivray Reef, raises the possibility that the shelf in this region has subsided relative to modern day sea level by at least 15 m since the last interglacial [125,000 years ago (ka)].


Lizard Island MacGillivray Reef Northern Great Barrier Reef Holocene Coral Reefs