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Algal reefs are organic rocky structures found in the ocean and certain carbonate-rich lakes. In the warmer oceans they may contribute to the complex of coral reefs (q.v.) or, on a small scale, may form independent “bioherms” (organic hillocks). In the geological past, algal reefs were considerably more important than at present and fossil algal platforms can be found in Precambrian rocks dating back to over two billion years. Primitive algal reefs are known collectively as Stromatolites .
The nature of the reef-forming algae, or the related organisms that simply favor the precipitation of lime-muds or provide hairy mats for their entrapment is treated in another volume (pr Vol. VII); suffice it to say here that the calcareous algae frequently inhabit an ecologic niche around about the intertidal belt in warm latitudes where conditions are not quite right for corals. Thus the algal reefs or platforms are found today in parts of Florida (Ginsburg, 1960) and the Mediterranean where...
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