Coral Reefs

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 177–188 | Cite as

Significance of Halimeda bioherms to the global carbonate budget based on a geological sediment budget for the Northern Great Barrier Reef, Australia

  • S. A. ReesEmail author
  • B. N. Opdyke
  • P. A. Wilson
  • T. J. Henstock


Since the correlation between carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and global temperatures was established in the ice core records, quantifying the components of the global carbon cycle has become a priority with a view to constraining models of the climate system. The marine carbonate budget is still not adequately constrained and the quantitative significance of the calcareous green alga Halimeda still remains particularly poorly understood. Previously, it has been suggested that Halimeda bioherms on the shelf of the Great Barrier Reef may contain a volume of carbonate equal to or greater than that contained within the shelf edge coral reefs. This study uses published datasets to test this hypothesis in the Northern Great Barrier Reef (NGBR) province. It is estimated that Halimeda bioherms on the outer shelf of the NGBR contain at least as much (and up to four times more) CaCO3 sediment as the adjacent ribbon reef facies. Globally, if these findings are even only partially applicable, the contribution of shallow water carbonate sediments to the global carbon budget based on coral reefs alone is currently substantially underestimated.


Halimeda bioherms Holocene Calcium carbonate budget 



This research has been supported by the National Environment Research Council; the Royal Society and the Earth and Marine Sciences Department, Australian National University, Canberra. We would especially like to thank John Davis for assisting in field expedition operations, Dr John Jell for supplying various seismic profiles of the GBR, the Lizard Island Research Station and Staff (particularly Bob Lamb for his patience and enthusiasm during fieldwork attempts), the Australian Museum and the GBR Marine Park Authority.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. A. Rees
    • 1
    Email author
  • B. N. Opdyke
    • 2
  • P. A. Wilson
    • 1
  • T. J. Henstock
    • 1
  1. 1.National Oceanography CentreSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Earth and Marine Sciences Department, Building 47Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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