Deep-sea scleractinian coral age and depth distributions in the northwest Atlantic for the last 225,000 years
Deep-sea corals have grown for over 200,000 yrs on the New England Seamounts in the northwest Atlantic, and this paper describes their distribution both with respect to depth and time. Many thousands of fossil scleractinian corals were collected on a series of cruises from 2003–2005; by contrast, live ones were scarce. On these seamounts, the depth distribution of fossil Desmophyllum dianthus (Esper, 1794) is markedly different to that of the colonial scleractinian corals, extending 750 m deeper in the water column to a distinct cut-off at 2500 m. This cut-off is likely to be controlled by the maximum depth of a notch-shaped feature in the seamount morphology. The ages of D. dianthus corals as determined by U-series measurements range from modern to older than 200,000 yrs. The age distribution is not constant over time, and most corals have ages from the last glacial period. Within the glacial period, increases in coral population density at Muir and Manning Sea-mounts coincided with times at which large-scale ocean circulation changes have been documented in the deep North Atlantic. Ocean circulation changes have an effect on coral distributions, but the cause of the link is not known.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 2007
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