Growth of Mediterranean reef of Cladocora caespitosa (L.) in the late quaternary and climate inferences

Andrea Peirano, Petar Kružić, Giuseppe Mastronuzzi

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31 Citations (Scopus)


A sclerochronological analysis was performed on Cladocora caespitosa corals from Late Pleistocene terraces near Taranto (Apulia, Italy) to reconstruct the main palaeoenvironmental conditions at the time of their growth. The fossil corallites were sampled in the Santa Teresiola uplifted bank or 'open frame reef' attributed to the Last Interglacial Period. The typical, annual growth pattern of the temperate coral with two alternate high- and low-density bands allowed the reconstruction of two multidecadal growth curves of 61 and 95 years. Trend analysis showed oscillations in annual growth rates similar to those observed in recent, living colonies sampled along a north-south latitudinal transect around the Italian and Croatian coasts as far as Tunisia. The mean growth rate of the fossil reef (4.2 ± 2 mm year-1) is comparable to those measured on colonies living in the coldest part of the Mediterranean Sea. The comparison with data from living Croatian banks shows how fossil C. caespitosa lived in a semi-enclosed environment characterized by seasonal inputs of fresh, cold water. The greatest variations in decadal growth rates of the fossil colonies support the hypothesis of larger amplitude of the seasonal cycles in the past. The death of the fossil bank was probably due to a sudden alluvial input that suffocated the reef with a great amount of mud. Another possible cause of the death of the bank was a prolonged increase in summer temperatures that caused colony mortality and enhanced algal colonization. © Springer-Verlag 2009.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325 - 333
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Palaeontology

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