Abstract

Cores from Kabira Reef, Ishigaki Island, southwest Japan, reveal the internal structure and temporal changes in sedimentary process of a complete coral reef flat. The reef crest caught up with sea level at about 4000 yr BP. Since then, it expanded oceanward and the reef pavement has grown landward. The backreef structure is composed of bioclasts derived from the reef framework. Of all the bioclasts, corals and coralline algae are most abundant. Coral fragments coarser than −3.0 ø have dominated the backreef sediments since about 2000 yr BP. Benthic foraminiferal tests first occurred at about 4000 yr BP, and their abundance increased significantly starting around 2000 yr BP. Shallowing of the reef crest is also indicated by the presence of the shallow-water benthic Foraminifera Baculogypsina sphaerulata tests after 2000 yr BP. The date 2000 yr BP is coincident with tectonic uplift at Kabira Reef (Kawana 1989). We consider this uplift to have caused a relative sea-level fall that aided the deposition of coral fragments transported from the reef pavement by storms. The relative sea-level fall also caused subaerial exposure of the reef crest during low tides and the transition of reef-building organisms from corals to shallow-water species of benthic Foraminifera, resulting in a change noticeable in the constituents of backreef sediments. The results of this study suggest that the coral reef flat, and especially the backreef, can be a faithful recorder of relative sea-level changes.

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