Holocene growth history of an eastern Pacific fringing reef, Punta Islotes, Costa Rica

J. Cortés, I. G. Macintyre, P. W. Glynn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Rock and sediment cores reveal that a well-developed fringing reef in Golfo Dulce, Pacific Costa Rica, up to 9 m thick was established on Cretaceous basalt about 5500 y BP. It is presently being smothered with fine sediments and is almost completely dead. This reef is made up of three main facies that are represented by comparable extant reef zones: reef-flat branching coral, fore-reef slope massive coral, and fore-reef talus sediment facies. Reef growth began with the establishment of small patch reefs dominantly formed by the branching coral Pocillopora damicornis. P. damicornis spread across the basalt bench and massive colonies of Porites lobata grew on the outer slopes, eventually blocking the seaward transport of Pocillopora fragments to the fore-reef talus sediments. The reef flourished until 500 years ago. Lower accumulation rates during the past 500 years may be due to deteriorating environmental conditions rather than slower growth after the reef reached sea level. Present-day reef communities are severely degraded with less than 2% living coral cover. The increased turbidity associated with the final stage of degradation of this reef is probably related to human activity on the adjacent shores, including deforestation, mining, and road construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalCoral Reefs
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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