Little is known about growth rates of deep-water reef-forming corals or the rates at which these reefs accumulate. Such information is critical for determining the resilience of the reefs to anthropogenic impacts such as trawling and climate change. We radiocarbon date live-caught and sub-fossil samples of the bioherm-forming coral Solenosmilia variabilis collected from precisely known depths and locations by means of a remotely operated vehicle on seamounts south of Tasmania, Australia. The growth rate of colonies live-caught between 958 and 1,454 m, which spans most of the depth range of the species locally, ranged from 0.84 to 1.25 mm linear extension yr−1 and tended to be higher in the deeper-caught material. Analysis of skeletal microstructure suggests annual deposition of growth increments near the growing tips, but not closer to the base, as the skeleton is extended and thickened. Dating of sub-fossil material indicates S. variabilis has been present on Tasmanian seamounts for at least the last 47,000 yrs and a reef accumulation rate of 0.27 mm yr−1.
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We thank E. Anagnostou, A. Beck, W. Cho, A. Gagnon, K. Gowlett-Holmes, S. John, A. Kennedy, H. Kippo, N. Meckler, D. Mills, N. Thiagarajan, D. Staples, and A. Subhas, and in particular, the crews of the ROV Jason and its support vessel RV Thomas T. Thompson for their professional assistance in the field. We also thank Rachel Wood for help with coral dating. Components of this work were supported by the National Science Foundation, the Australian Department of Environment, Water, Heritage, and the Arts, the Australian Commonwealth Environmental Research Fund, and Australian National Climate Adaptations Research Program.
Communicated by Geology Editor Prof. Bernhard Riegl
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Fallon, S.J., Thresher, R.E. & Adkins, J. Age and growth of the cold-water scleractinian Solenosmilia variabilis and its reef on SW Pacific seamounts. Coral Reefs 33, 31–38 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-013-1097-y
- Accumulation rate
- Deep sea
- Growth rate