Calibration and Assessment of the New Acropora ‘Inter-Branch Skeleton’ Palaeothermometer.

Friday, 19 December 2014: 8:30 AM
James Sadler1, Gregory E Webb2, Jian-Xin Zhao2 and Luke D Nothdurft3, (1)University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia, (2)University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, (3)Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Coral reefs provide an increasingly important archive of palaeoclimate data that can be used to constrain climate model simulations. Reconstructing past environments may also provide insights into the potential of reef systems to survive changes in the Earth’s climate. Geochemically based climate reconstructions are predominately acquired from massive Porites colonies, yet there remain significant spatial and temporal gaps in our understanding of climate evolution where no suitable coralla have been recovered. Branching corals are commonly the dominant species in modern reef facies and their abundance suggests an untapped source for this missing information. The potential of ‘inter-branch skeleton’ in corymbose Acropora to act as a new palaeoclimate archive is significant. Scanning Electron Microscopy of inter-branch skeleton in Acropora from Heron Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef, reveals a lack of secondary thickening deposits that typically characterize Acropora branches and renders them unsuitable for geochemical archives. Annual density banding, similar to that used for chronological determination of geochemical sampling in massive corals, is also observed within Acropora inter-branch skeleton. Clear seasonal signals in Sr/Ca within the skeletal structure will be correlated against the network of in situ temperature recorders in Heron lagoon and on the southern reef slope to provide a new palaeotemperature transfer equation.