Sherman et al. 2023

scientific article | Coral Reefs

Styles and rates of mesophotic reef accretion on a Caribbean insular slope

Sherman CE, Carlo M, Tuohy E, Adey WH


Structural framework is fundamental to the concept of a coral-algal reef. However, our current under- standing of reef framework is based largely upon studies of relatively shallow systems that formed at water depths of less than 30 m. There is comparatively limited information on deeper, mesophotic reef frameworks. Short drill cores collected at depths of ~ 50 m on the steep insular slope of southwest Puerto Rico allow for documentation of the com- position and accretion rates of mesophotic reef framework. Framework is dominated by platy agariciid corals (Agaricia spp.) and autochthonous micrite (automicrite) with calcare- ous algae, corallines and peyssonnelids, forming a second- ary component. Conspicuously, well-lithified automicrite constitutes a major structural and volumetric component of the framework. It is composed of magnesian calcite and displays irregular clotted, peloidal and fenestral fabrics, consistent with in situ formation. Radiocarbon ages of cor- als and automicrite indicate that they have formed recently (< 4 ka) and coevally in their current setting over a period of relative environmental stability. The steep slope gradi- ent and associated dynamic oceanographic conditions may allow for extensive automicrite formation. Mesophotic reef accretion is occurring on the steep slope, though at slow rates of ~ 0.3 m ka−1.

Depth range
50- 50 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
65 x (total of 8247 words)

* Presents original data
* Focused on 'mesophotic' depth range
* Focused on 'mesophotic coral ecosystem'


Scleractinia (Hard Corals)
Algae (Macro, Turf and Crustose Coralline)

Puerto Rico

Coring / drilling

Author profiles