HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Sam Purkis

Second Advisor

Paul (Mitch) Harris

Third Advisor

Bernhard Riegl


Through a discipline termed “comparative sedimentology”, modern carbonate depositional environments have been used extensively as analogs to aid in the interpretation of equivalent fossil systems. Using field samples, GIS and remote sensing data for three isolated carbonate platforms in the Pacific, this thesis seeks to examine relationships between grain texture and grain type and their environment of deposition. The motivation is to highlight relationships that have the potential to better understand facies relations on carbonate platforms, and thereby reduce uncertainty and increase accuracy of subsurface exploration. The results of this study show that on Raivavae, Tubuai, and Bora Bora: French Polynesia grain texture and type of collected sediment samples could be used to predict water depth and relative distance lagoonward from the reef rim with ≥ 73% and ≥ 67% accuracy, respectively. The predictive relationships; however, were largely site specific. The exception being that the same relationship between water depth and the abundance of mud and coral could be used on both Raivavae (accuracy = 81%) and Tubuai (accuracy = 78%). Additionally, the abundance of coral and Halimeda in sediment samples were able to classify samples as belonging to either the platform margin or platform interior environments on Raivavae, Tubuai, and Bora Bora with 75%, 65%, and 65% accuracy, respectively. Overall, the results of this study suggest that the abundance of coral holds potential to be utilized as a proxy for distance from the reef rim on modern and ancient isolated carbonate platforms dating back to the Miocene geological epoch.

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