A portion of the northern Florida Keys reef tract was mapped with the NASA Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL) and the morphology of patch reefs was related to variations in Holocene sea level. Following creation of a lidar digital elevation model (DEM), geospatial analyses delineated morphologic attributes of 1,034 patch reefs (reef depth, basal area, height, volume, and topographic complexity). Morphometric analysis revealed two morphologically different populations of patch reefs associated with two distinct depth intervals above and below a water depth of 7.7 m. Compared to shallow reefs, the deep reefs were smaller in area and volume and showed no trend in topographic complexity relative to water depth. Shallow reefs were more variable in area and volume and became flatter and less topographically complex with decreasing water depth. The knoll-like morphology of deep reefs was interpreted as consistent with steady and relatively rapidly rising early Holocene sea level that restricted the lateral growth of reefs. The morphology of shallow 'pancake-shaped' reefs at the highest platform elevations was interpreted as consistent with fluctuating sea level during the late Holocene. Although the ultimate cause for the morphometric depth trends remains open to interpretation, these interpretations are compatible with a recent eustatic sea-level curve that hindcasts fluctuating late Holocene sea level. Thus it is suggested that the morphologic differences represent two stages of reef accretion that occurred during different sea-level conditions. ?? 2008 Springer-Verlag.
Additional publication details
Patch-reef morphology as a proxy for Holocene sea-level variability, Northern Florida Keys, USA