Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs are atoll‐like structures that have developed on top of volcanic edifices and are close to the southern environmental limit of reef development in the southwest Pacific. Reef morphology and vertical accretion rates during the Holocene appear similar to those on other more tropical reefs. Sediment samples were collected from the lagoon of both reefs and around the flanks of Middleton Reef. A distinctly chlorozoan assemblage was observed with coral, molluscs, Halimeda, coralline algae and foraminifers being the dominant sediment constituents. Lagoon sediment samples show little variation within or between reefs, lacking the concentric zonation characteristic of larger atolls. Samples collected from the flanks of Middleton Reef, and subsurface material from vibrocores, differ compositionally from the surficial lagoon sand and were typically more tropical in character. A comparison of the sediment constituents from these reefs with those of samples from within a fringing reef and from the shelf around Lord Howe Island, further south, indicated regional patterns in sediment composition. Halimeda rapidly decreased in abundance with increased latitude, and appeared confined to deeper water, whereas coralline red algae increased significantly. The rapid change in these major sediment contributors is coincident with the general decrease in coral growth rates with latitude. This reinforces the notion that the latitudinal limit of reef development is constrained by factors other than coral growth alone.
Overall benthic (groups)
Australia - Southeastern Australia
Surface-deployed sensors and samplers