Response of reef coral communities to sea-level rise: a Holocene model from Mauritius (Western Indian Ocean)
Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
Volume 44, Issue 6, pages 1053–1070, December 1997
How to Cite
MONTAGGIONI, L. F. and FAURE, G. (1997), Response of reef coral communities to sea-level rise: a Holocene model from Mauritius (Western Indian Ocean). Sedimentology, 44: 1053–1070. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3091.1997.tb02178.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Manuscript received 21 June 1996; revision accepted 31 January 1997.
The fringing reef at Pointe-au-Sable (Mauritius, Indian Ocean) was used to examine the effects of Holocene sea-level rise on coral growth. This reef is about 1000 m wide and comprises a forereef slope (30 m maximum depth), a narrow reef crest and a very shallow backreef (1·5 m maximum depth).
Four major coral communities were recognized, which developed within relatively narrow depth ranges: a Pachyseris/Oulophyllia community (deeper than 20 m), an Acropora‘tabulate’Faviid community (20–6 m); a robust branching Acropora community (less than 6 m) and a Pavona community (less than 10m). Three high-recovery cores show the Holocene reef sequence is a maximum of 19·3 m thick and comprises four coral biofacies which are similar to counterparts identified in modern communities: robust branching, tabular-branching, robust branching-domal and foliaceous coral facies.
A minimum sea-level curve for the past 7500 years was constructed. Using distribution patterns of coral biofacies and radiocarbon dates from corals, reconstruction of reef growth history indicates that both offshore and onshore reef zones were developing coevally, aggrading at rates of 4·3 mm year−1 from 6900 years B.P. The reef caught up with sea-level only after sea-level stabilized. Changes in coral community and reef growth rates were driven principally by increasing water agitation due to the decrease in accommodation space. Based on the composition of the successive coral assemblages, the reef appears to have grown through successive equilibrium stages.