The barrier that helped the Great Barrier Reef form

Scientists had always been puzzled why the Great Barrier Reef formed long after Australia had conditions suitable for reef growth. It turns out the answer might be K’gari, or Fraser Island, shows new research by Daniel Ellerton, Postdoctoral at IGV and James Shulmeister, Adjunct Professor (University of Queensland and University of Canterbury). They discussed the new research in "The Conversation".

Photo from The Conversation/Shutterstock

The article “At least 700,000 years ago, the world’s largest sand island emerged as the barrier that helped the Great Barrier Reef form” is published on 14 November in The Conversation and is written by James Shulmeister, Adjunct Professor, University of Queensland, and Professor and Head of School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury, and Daniel Ellerton, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University.

They write:
“K’gari plays a key role in delivering this sand to the deep ocean. Sand moving along its eastern beaches is directed across the continental shelf and into the deep immediately north of the island. The dominant south-easterly trades would drive sand all the way into the full tropics if K’gari did not direct it off the shelf.

Our research, published today, has established the age of K’gari as being older than the Greater Barrier Reef. This suggests the reef became established only after the island protected it from the northward drift of sand.”

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This article was originally published on the Stockholm University's website.