Coral reef island initiation and development under higher than present sea levels

East, H.K., Perry, C.T., Kench, P.S., Liang, Y. and Gulliver, P. (2018) Coral reef island initiation and development under higher than present sea levels. Geophysical Research Letters, 45(20), pp. 11265-11274. (doi: 10.1029/2018GL079589)

173435.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



Coral reef islands are considered to be among the most vulnerable environments to future sea level rise. However, emerging data suggest that different island types, in contrasting locations, have formed under different conditions in relation to past sea level. Uniform assumptions about reef island futures under sea level rise may thus be inappropriate. Using chronostratigraphic analysis from atoll rim islands (sand‐ and gravel‐based) in the southern Maldives, we show that while island building initiated at different times around the atoll (~2,800 and ~4,200 calibrated years before present at windward and leeward rim sites, respectively), higher than present sea levels and associated high‐energy wave events were actually critical to island initiation. Findings thus suggest that projected sea level rise and increases in the magnitude of distal high‐energy wave events could reactivate this process regime, which, if there is an appropriate sediment supply, may facilitate further vertical reef island building.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work wassupported by a NERC PhD studentship(NE/K500902/1). Radiocarbon dateswere funded through allocation1853.1014 from the NaturalEnvironment Research Council (UK).Data are available within the supportinginformation and will be made availableon Northumbria University’sinstitutional repository ( upon publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gulliver, Dr Pauline
Authors: East, H.K., Perry, C.T., Kench, P.S., Liang, Y., and Gulliver, P.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Geophysical Research Letters
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
ISSN (Online):1944-8007
Published Online:10 October 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Geographical Research Letters 45(20): 11265-11274
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record