Coral Reefs

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 389–404 | Cite as

Examining water temperature proxies in Porites corals from the Great Barrier Reef: a cross-shelf comparison

  • Stewart J. Fallon
  • Malcolm T. McCulloch
  • Chantal Alibert


Cores from colonies of the coral species Porites sp. were collected from inshore, mid-shelf, and outer reef localities (central Great Barrier Reef) to test the robustness of the major elemental sea surface temperature (SST) proxies (B/Ca, Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, U/Ca) to the influence of inshore processes. Time series analyses of Sr/Ca, U/Ca, B/Ca, and Mg/Ca are compared to sea surface temperature (SST) in order to provide calibrations for these elements. This study shows that there are significant variations between the corals with respect to some of the proxies. In some cases, variations of ~6 °C are observed for a single U/Ca value. This magnitude of variation is also seen in the Mg/Ca proxy and, to a smaller extent, in the B/Ca–SST relationship. In two of the corals, both Mg/Ca and U/Ca do not follow a seasonal signal. The Mg/Ca and U/Ca ratios for two inshore corals are significantly different than the offshore corals (lower and higher, respectively). The other two proxies (B/Ca and Sr/Ca) do not display any inshore vs. offshore variations except for one inshore site that did not have a clear seasonal signal for either of these proxies. The Sr/Ca–SST relationship is the most robust, with a temperature variation of ~2 °C for a single Sr/Ca value, which is within error for this technique.


Great Barrier Reef Laser Ablation Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectrometry Outer Reef Inshore Reef Boron Adsorption 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank J. Marshall for fruitful lunchtime discussions, E. Hendy and D. Sinclair for help collecting the corals, and L. Kinsley for his help with LA-ICP-MS. We would also like to thank editor P. Swart and two anonymous reviewers for constructive criticism of the paper. S. Fallon was supported by OPRS and an Australian postgraduate award from the Australian National University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stewart J. Fallon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Malcolm T. McCulloch
    • 1
  • Chantal Alibert
    • 1
  1. 1.Research School of Earth SciencesThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Center for Accelerator Mass SpectrometryLawrence Livermore National Laboratory L-397LivermoreUSA

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