The paradox of tropical karst morphology in the coral reefs of the arid Middle East

Sam Purkis, G. P. Rowlands, B. M. Riegl, P. G. Renaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite differences in reef growth between the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, a common distinctive pattern of polygonal sills surrounding ponded depressions consistently occurs in shallow water. Viewed from a satellite, these seafloors are reticulated and maze like. Despite little current rainfall, this patterning is best explained by karst dissolution of limestone during periods of lower sea level. This is a paradox since such fine-scale karstification is confined to areas with considerably more precipitation than currently observed in Arabia. We resolve this apparent contradiction by developing a Pleistocene-Holocene chronology of sea level and climate for the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf, and through the use of pattern analysis and computer simulation, reveal the mechanism of formation for these structures. We demonstrate that this patterning can be taken as a Quaternary signature of paleohumidity in the now hyperarid Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-230
Number of pages4
JournalGeology
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

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coral reef
karst
sea level
karstification
sill
computer simulation
chronology
reef
shallow water
seafloor
dissolution
limestone
Holocene
Pleistocene
rainfall
climate
sea
gulf
analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

Cite this

The paradox of tropical karst morphology in the coral reefs of the arid Middle East. / Purkis, Sam; Rowlands, G. P.; Riegl, B. M.; Renaud, P. G.

In: Geology, Vol. 38, No. 3, 01.03.2010, p. 227-230.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Purkis, Sam ; Rowlands, G. P. ; Riegl, B. M. ; Renaud, P. G. / The paradox of tropical karst morphology in the coral reefs of the arid Middle East. In: Geology. 2010 ; Vol. 38, No. 3. pp. 227-230.
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