Fossil corals tell about the history of the ocean

coralsAncient coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef will help to understand how the past 20 thousand years has changed the sea level.

An international team of researchers will hold 45 days on board the ship of the Great Mayan , collecting samples at 40 locations at a depth of 150 m. Since, like trees, corals have growth rings, seasonal fluctuations in the past may shed light on the history of sea-water temperature , salinity and other characteristics of the environment.

The largest system of coral – Great Barrier Reef – about half a million years. During this time many of the reefs died off, because corals can “drown” if would be incompatible with life in the depths, and this fact also can tell when there is a rise in sea level. It is believed that over the past 20 thousand years, this happened three times: 19 thousand, 13.8 thousand and 11.3 thousand years ago.

“Understand the past, and you’ll understand the future”, – said one of the study participants, Alan Stevenson, head of the department of Marine Geology, British Geological Survey.

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