Journal article

Postglacial Fringing-Reef to Barrier-Reef conversion on Tahiti links Darwin's reef types

Paul Blanchon, Marian Granados-Corea, Elizabeth Abbey, Juan C Braga, Colin Braithwaite, David M Kennedy, Tom Spencer, Jody M Webster, Colin D Woodroffe

Scientific Reports | NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP | Published : 2014


In 1842 Charles Darwin claimed that vertical growth on a subsiding foundation caused fringing reefs to transform into barrier reefs then atolls. Yet historically no transition between reef types has been discovered and they are widely considered to develop independently from antecedent foundations during glacio-eustatic sea-level rise. Here we reconstruct reef development from cores recovered by IODP Expedition 310 to Tahiti, and show that a fringing reef retreated upslope during postglacial sea-level rise and transformed into a barrier reef when it encountered a Pleistocene reef-flat platform. The reef became stranded on the platform edge, creating a lagoon that isolated it from coastal sed..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by CONACyT

Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program US Implementing Organization (IODP-USIO) for permission to access core data at the Gulf Coast Repository (Texas A&M University), Javier Echavarria Saldana for high resolution core scans, Phil Rumford and Brad Clemment for logistical support, and Eberhard Gischler and journal reviewer for comments on the manuscript. Funding was provided by CONACyT grant 104358 to PB, and Australian Research Council grant DP1094001 to JMW.