Coral Skeletons: An Explanation of Their Growth and Structure

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Science  18 Dec 1970:
Vol. 170, Issue 3964, pp. 1305-1308
DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3964.1305


Coral skeletons are constructed of aragonitic crystals organized into fan systems. A theoretical model for the growth of such fan systems, which depends upon competition between crystals for space in which to grow, is corroborated by vital staining with sodium alizarinesulfonate. Fan systems of crystals compete with each other to form larger fan systems until large, relatively stable fans are produced. It is these relatively stable fan systems that have been observed in optical thin sections of coral skeletons.

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