Re: Coral Growth Rates

Joel Duff (
Thu, 13 May 1999 08:37:50 -0500

Art wrote:
(I've chopped a bunch above)
>A number of investigators have studied rates of coral and coral reef growth.
>Some estimates appear in Table 1. The top section, entitled "Rates of Reef
>Growth," derives from observations of reefs as a whole, while the section
>entitled "Maximum Rate of Coral Reef Frame Builders" represents the fastest
>rate of growth of those corals that could provide a physical framework for the
>reef. This framework would also offer protection for other smaller
>organisms as well as serving for the entrapment of water-transported
>sediments. Note that the fastest rates for reefs9 and for framebuilders10 do
>allow for the growth of the Eniwetok reef, which has a thickness of 1,405
>in less than 3,400 years. These fastest rates for reefs are based on
>which are the most direct and simple measurements and are probably more
>reliable than the less-direct methods that give slower growth rates. Such data
>indicate that the rate of coral reef growth does not present as great a
>to the biblical concept of creation a few thousand years ago as is sometimes


A most valient effort as usual but I do have some questions.

1) The fastest growth does require some pretty specific conditions which I
could grant you might have existed at some point in the past, say for a
short time post-flood. But could these conditions have been sustained
such that the optimal growth could continue for the entire period. If
growth was suboptimal at any time then the estimated time of growth must be

2) Expanding on #1 what about evidence that the reefs were at different
points in time subariel. How would this fit into a Flood or post-Flood
scenario? It would appear (from wht I have been told!) that for the
coral to change composition in the subariel state would take some time.
Further there is the question of the reason for their being lifted out of
the water in the first place. I presume that this would explained even by
global flood advocates as being a result of a drop in the ocean level not a
rising of the now extinct volcano below. According to the predominant
YEC model (not necessarily yours) maybe an ice age following the Flood
resulted in the lowering of the oceans but as I read the data the evidence
of subariel coral is rather high up on the total column indicating a rather
recent dramitic fluctuation in sea level that if we read the coral column
as growing at maximum rate since the flood must have occurred in the last
1000 years!

3) There is the matter of when the volcano was created. Most would likely
say during or after the flood (a la Walter Brown) and thus the reef would
have its origins at some point after the Flood. Also I am going to guess
here that the basalt drilled into at the top of the volcano showed evidence
of having been extruded in atmospheric conditions much like the Hawaiian
seamounts (correct me if I am wrong here, or anywhere else for that
matter). If this is the case it would be interesting to see how far
above the surface the volcano was at one time. If it had any sifnificant
height then we also have to allow for its sinking back into the ocean
before the coral could begin to accumulate on its top.

4) Regarding the sinking of the volcano itslef. It seems that in order
for this coral reef to have built to its present stage the combination of
the ocean levels and sinking of the volcano could not have fluctuated
dramatically or it wouldn't have happened. The volcano we must almost
assume must have been sinking at a fairly constant rate (ie. at what
happens to be the maximum growth rate of the coral). Further the volcano
isn't sinking at that rate presently so we need some mechanism for it
sudden slowing in its rate of sinking as well as a sudden slowing of the
growth of the coral (which I could see as being correlated with that slow
down in sinking). In Walter Brown's flood scebario after the separating
of the continents during/causing the flood we have the seamounts rapidly
rising from the sea floor and because the sea floor is also quite warm
still it is warped up. As the sea floor cooled it rapidly fell at first
lowering the sea levels (but notice that the seamounts would also be
lowering at a similar rate) then has gradually been slowing in its pace to
a point today where it is very slowly sinking and the plates are still
moving very slowly just as they are measured.

Just some random thoughts.

Joel Duff

I have a discussion of the same problems and events in life of the Hawaiian
islands at:

> Estimates of Rates of Reef Growth
> Carbon-14 dating 6 -15 233,000 -93,300
> Adey (1978)
> Coral growth and
> potential estimate 0.9 -74 1,550,000 -18,900
> Chave et al. (1972)
> Carbon-14 dating 1 ->20 1,400,000 -<70,00 `
>Davies and Hopley (1983)
> Growth rings (and
> maximum) 0.7 (3.3) 2,000,000 -424,000
> Hubbard et al. (1990)
> Potential estimate 80 17,500
> Odum and Odum (1955)
> Soundings 280 5,000
> Sewell (1935)
> CO2 system 2 -5 700,000 -280,000
> Smith and Kinsey (1976)
> CO2 system 0.8 -1.1 1,750,000 -1,270,000
>Smith and Harrison (1977)
> Soundings 414 3,380
> Verstelle (1932)
>Maximum growth Rates of Coral Reef Frame builders
> Antipathes sp 143 9,790
> Earle (1976)
> Acropora palmata 99 14,100
> Gladfelter et al. (1978)
> Acropora cervicornis 120 11,700
> Gladfelter (1984)
> Acropora cervicomis 264 -432 5,300 -3,240
> Lewis et al. (1968)
> Acropora cervicomis 100 14,000
> Shinn (1976)
> Acropora pucchra 226 6,190
> Tamura and Hada (1932)
>* References for the table "Estimates of Rates of Reef Growth" are: (a)
>Adey WH. 1978. Coral feet morphogenesis: a multidimensional model. Science
>202:831-837; (b) Chave KE, Smith SV, Roy KJ. 1972. Carbonate production by
>coral reefs. Marine Geology 12:123-140; (c) Davies PJ, Hopley D. 1983.
>Growth fabrics and growth rates of Holocene reefs in the Great Barrier
>Reef. BMR Journal of Australian Geology and Geophysics 8:237-251; (d)
>Hubbard, Miller, and Scaturo (note 17); (e) Odum HT, Odum EP. 1955. Tropic
>structure and productivity of a windward coral reef community on Eniwetok
>Atoll. Ecological Monographs 25(3):291 -320; (f) Sewell RBS. 1935. Studies
>on coral and coral formations in Indian waters. Geographic and
>oceanographic research in Indian waters, No. 8. Memoirs of the Asiatic
>Society of Bengal 9:461-539; (g) Smith SV, Kinsey DW. 1976. Calcium
>carbonate production, coral reef growth, and sea level change. Science
>4:937-939; (h) Smith SV, Harrison IT. 1977. Calcium carbonate production of
>the Mare Incognitum, the upper windward reef slope, at Eniwetok Atoll.
>Science 197:556-559; (i) Verstelle (note 21). References for the section
>entitled "Maximum Growth Rate of Coral Reef Frame Builders" are: (j) Earle
>SA. 1976. Life springs from death in Truk Lagoon. National Geographic
>149(5):578-613; (k) Gladfelter EH, Monahan RK, Gladfelter WB. 1978. Growth
>rates of five reef-building corals in the northeastern Caribbean. Bulletin
>of Marine Science 28:728-734; (I) Gladfelter EH. 1984. Skeletal development
>in Acropora cervicornis. III. A comparison of monthly rates of linear
>extension and calcium carbonate accretion measured over a year. Cora] Reefs
>3:51-57; (m) Lewis, Axelsen, Goodbody, Page, and Chislett (note 22b); (n)
>Shinn (note 20); (o) Tamura T, Hada Y. 1932. Growth rate of reef-building
>corals, inhabiting in the South Sea Island. Scientific Report of the
>T˘hoku Imperial University 7(4):433-455. The calculations for their
>research were reported by: Buddemeier and Kinzie (note 22a).
> 1. Ladd HS. 1961. Reef building. Science 134:703-715.
> 2. (a) Flood PG. 1984. A geological guide to the northern Great Barrier
> Australasian Sedimentologists Group Field Guide Series, No. 1. Sydney:
> Geological Society of Australia; (b) Stoddart DR. 1969. Ecology and
> morphology of recent coral reefs. Biological Reviews 44:433-498.
> 3. Ladd HS, Schlanger SO. 1960. Drilling operations on Eniwetok Atoll:
> and nearby atolls, Marshall Islands. U.S. Geological Survey Professional
> Paper 260:863-905.
> 4. Hayward A. 1985. Creation and evolution: the facts and the fallacies.
> London: Triangle (SPCK), p. 85.
> 5. This has been noted by several investigators, e.g.: Hubbard DK,
>Miller Al,
> 5caturo D. 1990. Production and cycling of calcium carbonate in a
> reef system (St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands): applications to the
>nature of
> reef systems in the fossil record. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology
> 60:335-360.
> 6. For some reports, see: (a) Anonymous. 1994. Coral bleaching threatens
> oceans, life. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
> (b) Charles D. 1992. Mystery of Florida's dying coral. New Scientist
>133 (11
> January):12; (c) Peters EC, McCarty HB. 1996. Carbonate crisis? Geotimes
> 41 (4):20-23; (d) Zorpette G. 1995. More coral trouble. Scientific
> 273(4):36, 37.
> 7. (a) Clausen CD, Roth AA. 1975a. Estimation of coral growth rates from
> laboratory 45C-incor-poration rates. Marine Biology 33:85-91; (b) Clausen
> CD, Roth AA. 1975b. Effect of temperature and temperature adaptation on
> calcification rate in the hermatypic coral Pocillopora damicornis. Marine
> Biology 33:93-100; (c) Roth AA. 1974. Factors affecting light as an
>agent for
> carbonate production by coral. Geological Society of America Abstracts
> Programs 6(7):932; (d) Roth AA, Clausen CD, Yahiku PY, Clausen VE, Cox
> WW. 1982. Some effects of light on coral growth. Pacific Science 36:65-81;
> (e) Smith AD, Roth AA. 1979. Effect of carbon dioxide concentration on
> calcification in the red coralline alga Bossiella orbigniana. Marine
> 52:217-225.
> 8. Shinn EA. 1976. Coral reef recovery in Florida and the Persian Gulf.
> Environmental Geology 1:241-254.
> 9. Verstelle JTh. 1921. The growth rate at various depths of coral
>reefs in
> the Dutch East Indian Archipelago. Treubia 14:117-126.
> 10. (a) Buddemeier RW, Kinzie RA, Ill. 1976. Coral growth. Oceanography
> Marine Biology: An Annual Review 14:183-225; (b) Lewis lB, Axelsen F,
> Goodbody I, Page C, Chislett G. 1968. Comparative growth rates of some
> reef corals in the Caribbean. Marine Science Manuscript Report 10.
> Montreal: Marine Sciences Centre, McGill University.