The Origin of the Great Barrier Reef—The Impact of Leg 133 Drilling

  1. G. F. Camoin3 and
  2. P. J. Davies4
  1. P. J. Davies1,4 and
  2. F. M. Peerdeman2

Published Online: 27 MAY 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304879.ch2

Reefs and Carbonate Platforms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

Reefs and Carbonate Platforms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

How to Cite

Davies, P. J. and Peerdeman, F. M. (1998) The Origin of the Great Barrier Reef—The Impact of Leg 133 Drilling, in Reefs and Carbonate Platforms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans (eds G. F. Camoin and P. J. Davies), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304879.ch2

Editor Information

  1. 3

    CEREGE, Aix-en-Provence, France

  2. 4

    University of Sydney, Australia

Author Information

  1. 1

    Ocean Science Institute, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

  2. 2

    Shell International, Muscat, Oman

  3. 4

    University of Sydney, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 27 MAY 2009
  2. Published Print: 23 MAR 1998

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632047789

Online ISBN: 9781444304879

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Keywords:

  • evolution of Great Barrier Reef;
  • seismic, sedimentological and isotopic data;
  • subreef environment—analogue on Fraser Island Shelf;
  • highstand sub-tropical sedimentation;
  • corals in subreef section

Summary

Drilling of the shallow fore-reef slope during Leg 133 of the Ocean Drilling Program has allowed the definition of an event history critical for understanding the initiation and evolution of the Great Barrier Reef. Within or immediately before the time period of isotope stages 8 and 9, a fundamental change in climate, driven by a switch from 19 000-yr obliquity to 100 000-yr precessional orbital cycles, led to raised sea surface temperatures and the initiation of the Great Barrier Reef. It is therefore only 300 000 yr old and an ecosystem response to environmental change. Subsequent development occurred as a series of high sea-level slices effected by four or five sea-level oscillations and growing progressively retrogressively to the west. The subreef section, although unknown, is postulated to be analogous to a mid to outer shelf coralline dominated environment comparable with that growing on the shelf to the south of the Great Barrier Reef today. The vertical and lateral (latitudinal) facies variations obey Walther's Law of Succession as a consequence of a sedimentary response to subsidence, latitude and climate change.