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U-Th age distribution of coral fragments from multiple rubble ridges within the Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef: Implications for past storminess history

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Prograded coral rubble ridges have been widely used as archives for reconstructing long-term storm or storminess history. Chronologies of ridge systems in previous studies are often based on a limited number of low-resolution radiocarbon or optically-stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages per ridge (usually only one age per ridge), which carry intrinsic age uncertainties and make interpretation of storm histories problematic. To test the fidelity of storm ridges as palaeo-storm archives, we used high-precision U-Th dating to examine whether different samples from a single ridge are temporally constrained. We surveyed three transects of ridge systems from two continental islands (Normanby Island and High Island) within the Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and obtained 96 U-Th dates from coral rubble samples collected from within and between different ridges. Our results revealed significant differences in age ranges between the two islands. The steeper and more defined rubble ridges present on Normanby Island revealed that the majority of U-Th ages (over 60%) from a single ridge clustered within a narrow age range (~100 years). By contrast, the lower and less defined ridges on High Island, which were more likely formed during both storm and non-storm high-energy events, revealed significant scatter in age distribution (>>200 years) with no notable clustering. The narrower age ranges obtained from the steeper and more defined rubble ridges suggest that previous approaches of using either limited samples from a single ridge or low-precision dating methods to establish chronologies are generally valid at centennial to millennial timescales, although caution must be taken to use such approaches for storm history reconstruction on shorter timescales (e.g. decadal). The correlation between U-Th mortality ages of coral rubble and historical stormy periods highlights the possibility of using coral rubble age distribution from rubble ridges to reconstruct the long-term regional storminess history. U-Th age distribution of all dated coral rubble samples, combined with previously published storm-transported coral block data from the same region, revealed at least six relatively stormy periods in the past 500 years in the Frankland Islands region: 1570-1590, 1760-1780, 1800-1830, 1860-1880, 1940-1960, 1980-2010 CE. Wavelet power analysis of the relative probability of U-Th age distribution indicates that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) may be partially responsible for the long-term variability in storminess.

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Liu, E., Zhao, J. X., Feng, Y. X., Leonard, N. D., Clark, T. R., & Roff, G. (2016). U-Th age distribution of coral fragments from multiple rubble ridges within the Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef: Implications for past storminess history. Quaternary Science Reviews, 143, 51-68. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.05.006

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84968928655

Start Page


  • 51

End Page


  • 68

Volume


  • 143

Abstract


  • Prograded coral rubble ridges have been widely used as archives for reconstructing long-term storm or storminess history. Chronologies of ridge systems in previous studies are often based on a limited number of low-resolution radiocarbon or optically-stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages per ridge (usually only one age per ridge), which carry intrinsic age uncertainties and make interpretation of storm histories problematic. To test the fidelity of storm ridges as palaeo-storm archives, we used high-precision U-Th dating to examine whether different samples from a single ridge are temporally constrained. We surveyed three transects of ridge systems from two continental islands (Normanby Island and High Island) within the Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and obtained 96 U-Th dates from coral rubble samples collected from within and between different ridges. Our results revealed significant differences in age ranges between the two islands. The steeper and more defined rubble ridges present on Normanby Island revealed that the majority of U-Th ages (over 60%) from a single ridge clustered within a narrow age range (~100 years). By contrast, the lower and less defined ridges on High Island, which were more likely formed during both storm and non-storm high-energy events, revealed significant scatter in age distribution (>>200 years) with no notable clustering. The narrower age ranges obtained from the steeper and more defined rubble ridges suggest that previous approaches of using either limited samples from a single ridge or low-precision dating methods to establish chronologies are generally valid at centennial to millennial timescales, although caution must be taken to use such approaches for storm history reconstruction on shorter timescales (e.g. decadal). The correlation between U-Th mortality ages of coral rubble and historical stormy periods highlights the possibility of using coral rubble age distribution from rubble ridges to reconstruct the long-term regional storminess history. U-Th age distribution of all dated coral rubble samples, combined with previously published storm-transported coral block data from the same region, revealed at least six relatively stormy periods in the past 500 years in the Frankland Islands region: 1570-1590, 1760-1780, 1800-1830, 1860-1880, 1940-1960, 1980-2010 CE. Wavelet power analysis of the relative probability of U-Th age distribution indicates that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) may be partially responsible for the long-term variability in storminess.

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Liu, E., Zhao, J. X., Feng, Y. X., Leonard, N. D., Clark, T. R., & Roff, G. (2016). U-Th age distribution of coral fragments from multiple rubble ridges within the Frankland Islands, Great Barrier Reef: Implications for past storminess history. Quaternary Science Reviews, 143, 51-68. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.05.006

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84968928655

Start Page


  • 51

End Page


  • 68

Volume


  • 143