Coral Reef Thriving in Sediment-laden Waters
July 31, 2012
"Rapid rates of coral reef growth have been identified in sediment-laden marine environments, conditions previously believed to be detrimental to reef growth. A new study has established that Middle Reef – part of Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef – has grown more rapidly than many other reefs in areas with lower levels of sediment stress.
Led by the University of Exeter, the study by an international team of scientists is published today in the journal Geology.
Middle Reef is located just 4 km off the mainland coast near Townsville, Australia, on the inner Great Barrier Reef shelf. Unlike the clear waters in which most reefs grow, Middle Reef grows in water that is persistently 'muddy'. The sediment comes from waves churning up the muddy sea floor and from seasonal river flood plumes. The Queensland coast has changed significantly since European settlement, with natural vegetation cleared for agricultural use increasing sediment runoff. High levels of sediment result in poor water quality, which is believed to have a detrimental effect on marine biodiversity."
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