Detailed observations of mineral phases in the skeleton of a massive reef-building coral were performed at nano- to micrometer scales using an analytical transmission electron microscope. The most notable result is the discovery of a nanosized halite (NaCl) phase coexisting with aragonite (CaCO3) in the coral skeleton. The halite grains are scattered not only along grain boundaries but also inside aragonite grains. The specific relationship of crystallographic orientations and microstructural features between halite and surrounding aragonite suggest that halite precipitated simultaneously with aragonite during calcification. The primary deposition of a mineral phase other than aragonite in a coral skeleton is confirmed for the first time.

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