Diversity in the geomorphology of shallow-water carbonate depositional systems in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea

Gwilym Rowlands, Sam Purkis, Andrew Bruckner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Coral reefs and their associated accumulations of carbonate sediment adopt particularly complex planform geometries atop the coastal shelf of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea. By assembling 95,000km2 of remote sensing data into a GIS, this study aims to relate the morphology of these shallow-water depositional environments to processes that sculpt the coastal zone. A typology that sorts carbonate systems into end-members on the basis of their morphology and relationship to the coastline is developed. The resulting GIS was interrogated for spatial patterns in the distribution and abundance of the end-members. While several depositional morphologies are present throughout the length of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea, the occurrence of others is restricted to narrow regions of latitude. Such differences in distribution can be explained in process-terms by the rift tectonics of the Red Sea basin, spatial variability in the presence of sub-seafloor evaporites, and the input of siliciclastic detritus onto the coastal shelf via wadis. This paper provides a foundation for understanding the morphological diversity of shallow-water carbonate systems in both the modern ocean and rock records.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Carbonate system
  • Coral reef
  • GIS
  • Morphology
  • Red Sea
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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