Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Coral Reef Sediment Dissolution: Insights from Chamber Incubations Around the Globe

Event Name/Location

2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 21-26, 2016

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Ocean acidification (OA) is expected to negatively affect the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) budget of coral reefs by decreasing calcification and increasing CaCO3 dissolution rates. Sediments represent the largest reservoir of CaCO3 in coral reefs and form important habitats above and below the hide tide mark. Results from in situ benthic incubations at different coral reef locations around the world (Australia, Tahiti, Bermuda, Cook Islands, and Hawaii) reveal that there is a general trend between bulk seawater aragonite saturation state (Ωar) and net CaCO3 sediment dissolution rates. Experimental incubations also indicate that the ratio of production to respiration (P/R) in the sediments plays a significant role in CaCO3 dissolution, with high P/R ratios potentially offsetting the effects of human induced OA. This is most likely due to benthic microalgae photosynthesizing and consuming CO2, which produces conditions more favourable for CaCO3 precipitation in sediment pore waters. Despite any interactions with benthic organic metabolism, sediment dissolution could be an order of magnitude more sensitive to OA compared to the process of biogenic calcification. Increases in CaCO3 sediment dissolution under predicted CO2 emissions could shift the net ecosystem calcification (NEC) of coral reefs from net CaCO3 precipitating to net dissolving by the end of this century.

This document is currently not available here.