Coral Reef Islands
A coral reef island is composed of rocks from coral skeletons, that is, biologically formed calcium carbonate materials derived from the adjacent coral reef and raised above sea level. Coral reef island sizes range from a few square meters to many square kilometers, and they come in all shapes and proportions. Their soils consist of coral fragments, calcareous algae and other limestone detritus, varied amounts of humus, guano from sea birds, volcanic ash, and drifted pumice (Fosberg, 1976).
Coral reef islands can develop only where suitable conditions sustain coral growth over time. These conditions include favorable physical factors (high temperature, high salinity, good light penetration, and low nutrients) and biological factors (especially a supply of coral larvae) in tropical regions that provide a firm substrate in the shallow photic zone (Birkeland, 1997). Coral islands are created in three ways, which are not mutually exclusive: (1) accumulation of dead coral reef rubble and...
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