Geochemistry-based coral palaeoclimate studies and the potential of ‘non-traditional’ (non-massive Porites) corals : recent developments and future progression

Sadler, James, Webb, Gregory E., Nothdurft, Luke D., & Dechnik, Belinda (2014) Geochemistry-based coral palaeoclimate studies and the potential of ‘non-traditional’ (non-massive Porites) corals : recent developments and future progression. Earth-Science Reviews, 139, pp. 291-316.

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Understanding the natural variability of the Earth's climate system and accurately identifying potential anthropogenic influences requires long term, geographically distributed records of key climate indicators, such as temperature and precipitation that extend prior to the last 400. years of the Holocene. Reef corals provide an excellent source of high resolution climate records, and importantly represent the tropical marine environment where palaeoclimate data are urgently required. Recent decades have seen significant improvement in our understanding of coral biomineralisation, the associated uptake of geochemical proxies and methods of identifying and understanding the effects of both early and late, post depositional diagenetic alteration. These processes all have significant implications for interpreting geochemical proxies relevant to palaeoclimatic reconstructions. This paper reviews the current 'state of the art' in terms of coral based palaeoclimate reconstructions and highlights a key remaining problem. The majority of coral based palaeoclimate research has been derived from massive colonies of Porites. However, massive Porites are not globally abundant and may not provide material of a particular age of interest in those regions where they are present. Therefore, there is great potential for alternate coral genera to act as complimentary climate archives. While it remains critical to consider five key factors - vital effects, differential growth morphologies, geochemical heterogeneity in the skeletal ultrastructure, transfer equation selection and diagenetic screening of skeletal material - in order to allow the highest level of accuracy in coral palaeoclimate reconstructions, it is also important to develop alternate taxa for palaeoclimate studies in regions where Porites colonies are absent or rare. Currently as many as nine genera other than Porites have proven at least limited utility in palaeothermometry, most of which are found in the Atlantic/Caribbean region where massive Porites do not exist. Even branching taxa such as Acropora have significant potential to preserve environmental archives. Increasing this capability will greatly expand the number of potential geochemical archives available for longer term temporal records of palaeoclimate.

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ID Code: 78912
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Holocene palaeoclimate, Scleractinian corals, Stable isotopes, Elemental ratios, Scleractinian coral growth, Diagenesis
DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2014.10.002
ISSN: 0012-8252
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 24 Nov 2014 23:14
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2014 22:49

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