Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs

2011 Edition
| Editors: David Hopley

Impacts of Sediment on Coral Reefs

  • Michael J. Risk
  • Evan Edinger
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2639-2_25


The relationship between reefs and sediments has been observed by humans certainly for centuries, and possibly for millennia. Columbus observed that his ships could take on fresh water by avoiding the fringing reefs of South America and sailing into the mouths of the Orinoco (Morison, 1974). Moreover, that keen observer Charles Darwin noted that “The deposition… of sediment, checks the growth of coral-reefs” (Darwin, 1842).

Since the earliest seafarers noted that they could approach reef-barred coastlines at river mouths, because no reefs occurred there, we have known that sedimentation kills reefs. In fact, throughout geologic history (including the present), sediment must be considered one of the great killers of reefs. Notwithstanding this, the field still lacks the definitive body of research that would allow management teams to set objective standards and to craft appropriate legislation.

A geological perspective

A great deal of research has been conducted by...

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The senior author performed much of the work for this article whilst in residence as a Temminck Fellow at the Natural History Museum in Leiden, Netherlands.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Risk
    • 1
  • Evan Edinger
    • 2
  1. 1.Deptartment Of GeologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.GeographyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada