Lagoon infilling by coral reef sand aprons as a proxy for carbonate sediment productivity
Sand aprons are distinctive landforms that offer important insights into sedimentary dynamics for reef platform development. Here we link temporal and spatial scales of 21 sand aprons in the southern Great Barrier Reef to understand their Holocene formation and evolution in response to relative sea-level changes, the depth of the Pleistocene base, and contemporary morphodynamics. Our results show that lagoon infilling is a function of reef size and is a self-limiting process controlled by hydrodynamics and relative sea-level changes. Lagoon infilling does not depend on the type of reef or degree of exposure to waves, but it could reflect past wave climates. Our carbonate productivity estimates based on lagoon infilling are remarkably similar to those inferred from habitat classification. Finally, we hypothesize that current carbonate productivity has slowed because of the effects of climate change.
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