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Blue Hole

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Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series book series (EESS)

Blue holes are underwater karst caves, which when found in shallow water, have striking features because of the strong color contrast between the dark blue cave opening and the light blue surrounding seafloor. A classic modern example is the blue hole in the lagoon of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll in Belize (Figure 1). This blue hole is cylindrical in shape, has a diameter of 300 m and is 120 m deep. It was formed by subaerial dissolution of Pleistocene reef limestone during glacial sea-level lowstands and later roof collapse (Dill, 1977). Giant stalactites found in 40 m depth are impressive evidence of the subaerial cave formation. Because the lower water column of this blue hole is anoxic, fine-grained bottom sediments turned out to be undisturbed and annually layered. They were used as high-resolution Holocene climate archive (Gischler et al., 2008). Other prominent examples include the blue holes of the Pompey reefs in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia (Backshall et al., 1979), the...

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Blue Hole. Figure 1

Bibliography

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Gischler, E. (2011). Blue Hole. In: Hopley, D. (eds) Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2639-2_190

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