Ecological-sedimentary zonations and carbonate deposition, Xiaodonghai Reef Flat, Sanya, Hainan Island, China

Abstract

Modern fringing reefs are developed on the intertidal to subtidal area of Xiaodonghai bay, Sanya, Hainan Island. The reef flat extends several dozen meters toward the sea. Various ecological and sedimentary zonations can be distinguished, including, from land to sea, beachrocks, large massive corals, inner reef flat, outer reef flat, and fore-reef slope. The carbonate sediments and constituent hermatypic coral communities are different in these zones. The beachrocks are composed mainly of biological sands, including coral skeletons, algae, gastropods, bivalves, and benthic foraminifera. Quartz sands are less common in this zone. Carbonate diagenesis in beachrocks is characterized by early cementation. The fringing reef flat is progradationally developed toward the sea. Large massive corals grew in the zone next to the beachrocks. These corals are large, flat-toped, and autochthonous in the production of bioclastic grains and lime mud. Large and massive coral skeletons are surrounded by coral skeletal grains, bioclasts, and lime-mud sediments. The inner reef flat consists mainly of skeletons of branching corals that are covered by bioclasts and lime mud, and living corals are mostly massive in form. Statistical analysis of coral-community dynamics shows that the outer reef flat with strong waves is the most suitable place for hermatypic corals to flourish. There, the living corals are most densely distributed. Both massive corals and branching corals (e.g., Acropora corymbosa) are exceptionally healthy in this zone. Bioclasts and lime mud are washed out due to strong wave action. Microbial carbonates generally are deposited within cavities of the beachrocks and coral skeletal cavities and on the surfaces of bioclastic grains. The latter two types, however, are more common. Ecological-sedimentary zonations across the Xiaodonghai reef flat from beachrocks to outer reef flat are controlled by variations in wave strength and water energy. Microbial carbonates rarely developed on outer reef flat under strong wave action.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. 1

    Hughes T P, Baird A H, Bellwood D R, et al. Climate change, human impacts, and resilience of coral reefs. Science, 2003, 301: 929–933

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Pandolfi J M, Bradbury R H, Sala E, et al. Global trajectories of the long-term decline of coral reef ecosystems. Science, 2003, 301: 955–958

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Zhao H T, Zhang Q M, Song C J, et al. Geomorphology and environment of the South China Coast and the South China Sea Islands (in Chinese). Beijing: Science Press, 1999. 1–528

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Ma T Y. Hermatypic corals and growth rate of coastal coral reefs in China (in Chinese). Geoll Rev, 1936, 1: 293–300

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Nie B F, Liang M T, Zhu Y Z, et al. The Study of the Fine Skeletal Structures of Recent Reef Corals in the Reef Coral Regions of the South China Sea (in Chinese). Beijing: China Science and Technology Press, 1991. 1–147

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Zhao H T, Song C J, Zhu Y Z. Geomorphic and modern sedimentary features of coral reefs in the hinterland of “Dangerous ground”, Nansha Islands (in Chinese). Quat Sci, 1992, 4: 203–212

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Zhao H T, Wen X S, Sun Z X. Nature characteristics of coral reefs in Nansha islands (in Chinese). Acta Oceanol Sin, 1996, 18: 61–70

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Yu K F. General situation of the study on reef coral 13C and the related environment information (in Chinese). Mar Sci Bull, 1999, 18: 82–87

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Yu K F, Zhao J X, Wang P X, et al. High-precision U-series and AMS 14C dating for a coral reef lagoon sediment core from southern South China Sea. Quat Sci Rev, 2006, 25: 2420–2430

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Zhang Q M, Shi Q, Chen G, et al. Status monitoring and management strategy research of Luhuitou fringing reef of the Sanya reserve. Chin Sci Bull, 2006, 51(Suppl 2): 71–77

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Teng J B, Shen J W. Microbial carbonates in Holocene beachrocks, Shuiweiling, Luhuitou Peninsula, Hainan Island. Sci China Ser D-Earth Sci, 2008, 51: 30–40

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Shen J W, Wang Y. Modern microbialites and their environmental significance, Meiji reef atoll Nansha (Spratly) Islands, South China Sea. Sci China Ser D-Earth Sci, 2008, 51: 608–617

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Zhao X T, Peng G, Zhang J W. A Preliminary study of Holocene stratigraphy and sea level changes along the coast of Hainan Island (in Chinese). Chin J Geol, 1979, 4: 350–357

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Zhang M S, Liu J, Li H, et al. Basic characteristics and formation time of peripheral coral reefs in Hainan Island (in Chinese). Mar Geol Qua Geol, 1990, 2: 25–43

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Huang D Y, Shi Q, Zhang Y C. The coral reef and high sea level in Luhuitou, Hainan Island during Holocene (in Chinese). Mar Geol Qua Geol, 2005, 25: 1–7

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Mao L J, Zhang Y Z, Wei L, et al. Study on beach characteristics in Sanya area of Hainan Island (in Chinese). Quat Sci, 2006, 3: 477–484

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Edmunds P J, Bruno J F. The importance of sampling scale in ecology: Kilometre-wide variation in coral reef communities. Mar Ecol Prog Ser, 1996, 143: 165–171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Connell J H, Highes T P, Wallace C C. A 30-year study of coral abundance, recruitment, and disturbance at several scales in spaces and time. Ecol Mon, 1997, 67: 461–488

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Hughes T P, Connell J H. Multiple stressors on coral reefs: A long-term perspective. Limnol Oceanogr, 1999, 44: 932–940

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    McClanahan T R. Bleaching damage and recovery potential of Maldivian coral reefs. Mar Pollut Bull, 2000, 40: 587–597

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Szmant A M. Nutrient enrichment on coral reefs: Is it a major cause of coral reef decline? Estuaries, 2002, 25: 743–766

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Pandolfi J M. Coral community dynamics at multiple scales. Coral Reefs, 2002, 21: 13–23

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Dikou A, Woesik R V. Survival under chronic stress from sediment load-Spatial patterns of hard coral communities in the southern island of Singapore. Mar Pollut Bull, 2006, 52: 7–21

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Camoin G F, Gautret P, Montaggioni L F, et al. Nature and environmental significance of microbialites in Quaternary reefs: The Tahiti paradox. Sedim Geol, 1999, 126: 271–304

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Webb G E, Kamber B S. Rare earth elements in Holocene reefal microbialites: A new shallow seawater proxy. Geochim Cosmochim Acta, 2000, 64: 1557–1565

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Webb G E, Kamber B S. Biogenicity inferred from microbialite geochemistry. Microbiol Austral, 2004, 24: 36–37

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Krumbein W E. The year of the slime. In: Krumbein W E, Paterson D M, Stal L J, eds. Biostabilization of Sediments, Bibliotheks und informations system der Universitaet Oldenburg, Oldenburg, 1994. 1–7

  28. 28

    Strasser A, Davaud E, Jedoui Y. Carbonate cements in Holocene beachrock: Example from Bahiret el Biban, southeastern Tunisia. Sediment Geol, 1989, 62: 89–100

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Gischler E, Lomando A J. Holocene cemented beach deposits in Belize. Sediment Geol, 1997, 110: 277–297

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yue Wang.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wang, Y., Shen, J. & Long, J. Ecological-sedimentary zonations and carbonate deposition, Xiaodonghai Reef Flat, Sanya, Hainan Island, China. Sci. China Earth Sci. 54, 359–371 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-011-4174-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • microbial carbonates
  • ecological-sedimentary zonation
  • cementation
  • reef flat
  • Hainan Island