Horizontal Plate Motion: A Key Allocyclic Factor in the Evolution of the Great Barrier Reef

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Science  18 Dec 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4834, pp. 1697-1700
DOI: 10.1126/science.238.4834.1697


The Great Barrier Reef complex of northeastern Australia thins dramatically and becomes younger from north to south. These variations are a consequence of the Cenozoic northward movement of the Indian-Australian plate. The temperate climatic conditions that applied off northeast Australia during the early Tertiary were progressively replaced by tropical conditions. The present-day south-to-north facies distribution along the eastern Australian continental margin mimics the Cenozoic vertical facies sequence through the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef region.