Coral Reef Morphogenesis: A Multidimensional Model

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Science  24 Nov 1978:
Vol. 202, Issue 4370, pp. 831-837
DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4370.831


Windward reef morphogenesis is a dynamic process directly controlled by the growth potential of dominant corals and coralline algae relative to wave energy and sea level rise. Moderate wave energy favors vertically rapid growth that is porous and uncemented; high wave energy favors slow but compact growth. Growth potentials of Caribbean and Indo-Pacific reefs are probably equivalent. Major differences are probably not due to biological or direct climatic factors but are in part related to differing patterns of sea level rise resulting from Holocene crustal adjustment. The nature and position of antecedent foundations developed by high interglacial and interstadial sea levels is especially critical and is largely controlled by regional tectonic factors, especially long-term subsidence.