Publication Details

Kennedy, D., Woodroffe, C. D. and Zhao, J. -X. (2007). Reef development at high-latitudes during multiple interglacial cycles: new evidence from Lord Howe Island, Southwestern Pacific. Carbonates and Evaporites, 22 (1), 24-33.


Reef development during past Interglacial periods, when sea level and sea surface temperatures were higher than today, provide unique insights into how reef systems may respond to projected human-induced global warming. Lord Howe Island currently represents the southernmost limit of reef development in the Pacific. Reef growth of Pleistocene age has been inferred to have occurred around the island, and this paper provides the fi rst detailed descriptions on the character of this development. Two phases of reef growth are identifi ed, which occurred as isolated fringing reefs along the edge of the basaltic hills of the island. Uranium-series dating indicates that the upper part of the sequence is of Last Interglacial age, however extensive calcite recrystallisation meant the lower part of the sequence does not yield reliable ages. Calcite cements suggest that several phases of recrystallisation have occurred meaning the lower part of the sequence is most likely to represent reef of Penultimate Interglacial age. Component analysis of the sedimentary matrix within the reef indicates coralline algae dominated sands which are very similar to the modern reef environment. This suggests that the environment at Lord Howe Island has remained at or close to the environmental limits for reef growth during the past few interglacials, despite lithospheric plate motion moving this island further north into reef building seas.