, Volume 51, Issue 1-4, pp 33-48
Date: 26 May 2005

Coral growth and reef growth: a brief review

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The growth potential of modern zooxanthellate corals from the major reef provinces is reviewed with respect to Holocene reef growth. Both coral growth and reef growth is enhanced globally at the beginning of the Holocene and is maintained regionally in the Caribbean Sea up to the present in contrast to reefs of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. This regional difference is mainly caused by the siphoning effect of the tropical Atlantic, which is characterised still by a rising sea level in contrast to global ocean. Hence, Indo-Pacific reefs exhibit a well-cemented reef crest and reef roof barren of living corals. The evaluation of reef growth rates throughout the Phanerozoic shows reduced growth rates of more than one order of magnitude in comparison to their modern counterparts. This is a result of compaction and diagenesis but also strongly biased by uncertainties in absolute dating. Point counting of individual framebuilders with known growth rate may result in more comparative figures for growth rates of fossil reefs with respect to modern ones.