Initiation, development, evolution of inshore fringing coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef


Members of TropWATER’s Catchment Reef Research Group (CRRG) actively research when the inshore and mid shelf fringing reefs of the GBR started growing and how their lateral and vertical accretion rates have changed over time to provide a longer geomorphological perspective on coral reef development. Such research is critical to understand reef condition and how this may have changed over time. For example, research on a fringing reef at Stone Island, off the Bowen township showed that reef accretion ceased around 4000 years ago. This finding help contextualise historical photographs of this reef flat which have been previously used to suggest regional decline of the inshore GBR.

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Further Reading

Lewis, S.E. Wüst, R.A.J. Webster, J.M. Shields, G.A. Renema, W. Lough, J.M. Jacobsen, G. 2012. Development of an inshore fringing coral reef using textural, compositional and stratigraphic data from Magnetic Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Geology 299-302, 18-32.

Ryan, E.J. Smithers, S.G. Lewis, S.E. Clark, T.R. Zhao, J-x. Hua, Q. 2018. Fringing reef growth over a shallow last interglacial reef foundation at a mid-shelf high island: Holbourne Island, central Great Barrier Reef. Marine Geology 398, 137-150.

Ryan, E.J. Lewis, S.E. Smithers, S.G. Clark, T.R. Zhao, J-x. 2016. Multi-scale records of reef development and condition provide context for contemporary changes on inshore reefs. Global and Planetary Change 146, 162-178.

Ryan, E.J. Smithers, S.G. Lewis, S.E. Clark, T.R. Zhao, J-x. 2016. The influence of sea level and cyclones on Holocene reef flat development: Middle Island, central Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 35, 805-818.

Ryan, E.J. Smithers, S.G. Lewis, S.E. Clark, T.R. Zhao, J-x. 2016. Chronostratigraphy of Bramston Reef reveals a long-term record of fringing reef growth under muddy conditions in the central Great Barrier Reef. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 441, 734-747.


Dr Stephen Lewis


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