Coral Reefs

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 173–187 | Cite as

Accretion history of mid-Holocene coral reefs from the southeast Florida continental reef tract, USA

  • A. StathakopoulosEmail author
  • B. M. Riegl


Sixteen new coral reef cores were collected to better understand the accretion history and composition of submerged relict reefs offshore of continental southeast (SE) Florida. Coral radiometric ages from three sites on the shallow inner reef indicate accretion initiated by 8,050 Cal BP and terminated by 5,640 Cal BP. The reef accreted up to 3.75 m of vertical framework with accretion rates that averaged 2.53 m kyr−1. The reef was composed of a nearly even mixture of Acropora palmata and massive corals. In many cases, cores show an upward transition from massives to A. palmata and may indicate local dominance by this species prior to reef demise. Quantitative macroscopic analyses of reef clasts for various taphonomic and diagenetic features did not correlate well with depth/environmental-related trends established in other studies. The mixed coral framestone reef lacks a classical Caribbean reef zonation and is best described as an immature reef and/or a series of fused patch reefs; a pattern that is evident in both cores and reef morphology. This is in stark contrast to the older and deeper outer reef of the SE Florida continental reef tract. Accretion of the outer reef lasted from 10,695–8,000 Cal BP and resulted in a larger and better developed structure that achieved a distinct reef zonation. The discrepancies in overall reef morphology and size as well as the causes of reef terminations remain elusive without further study, yet they likely point to different climatic/environmental conditions during their respective accretion histories.


SE Florida continental reef tract Reef accretion Holocene Backstepping Relict reef 



We thank numerous volunteers at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center who aided in various aspects of fieldwork and diving. Dr. Peter K. Swart, Monica Arienzo, Corey Schroeder, and Amel Saied at the Stable Isotope Laboratory at University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences are thanked for their assistance with XRD analyses and radiocarbon sample preparations. J. Fietzke provided U/Th ages. Beta Analytic Inc. graciously provided corrections and calendar calibrations for radiocarbon ages. This manuscript was improved considerably by thoughtful and enthusiastic comments provided by the reviewers and editors. This project was funded by NSU 2012 and 2013 PFRD grants and support to NCRI by NOAA/NCCOS.

Supplementary material

338_2014_1233_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 24 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Coral Reef InstituteNova Southeastern University Oceanographic CenterDania BeachUSA
  2. 2.St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science CenterU.S. Geological SurveySt. PetersburgUSA

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