Secrets from a deep reef: structure, biogeography and palaeoclimate reconstruction from Mingulay Reef complex sediment cores
Douarin, Melanie Amelie Laetitia
A multi-disciplinary study of sediment core records from the Mingulay Reef Complex, a cold-water coral reefs system off western Scotland, highlights the potential of cold-water corals from which detailed centennial-scale palaeo-environmental reconstructions can be derived. This study provides a new insight on the mechanisms controlling Lophelia pertusa reef build-up, shifts in biodiversity, the physical/chemical/biological processes and the sedimentary regime. A detailed record of Mingulay Complex growth history shows unprecedented high average accumulation rates of 3 – 4 mm a-1. Marine radiocarbon reconstruction derived from paired 14C and U-series dated fossil corals revealed substantial abrupt oceanic shifts during the Holocene that have repetitively affected cold-water coral growth, eventually causing local disappearance. These periods of reduced accumulation rates are synchronous with other coral structures from the NE Atlantic illustrating basin wide events. Finally, trace/minor element ratios reproducibility within coral skeleton was investigated to test if palaeo-environmental reconstructions could be made from cold-water corals.