The mechanism of production enhancement in coral reef carbonate systems: model and empirical results

A. Suzuki, Toru Nakamori, H. Kayanne

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87 Citations (Scopus)


Coral reefs are characterized by enormous carbonate production of the organisms. It is known that rapid calcification is linked to photosynthesis under control of the carbonate equilibrium in seawater. We have established a model simulating the coexisting states of photosynthesis and calcification in order to examine the effects of photosynthesis and calcification on the carbonate system in seawater. Supposing that the rates of photosynthesis and calcification are proportional to concentrations of their inorganic carbon source, the model calculations indicate that three kinds of unique interactions of the organic and inorganic carbon productions are expected. These are photosynthetic enhancement of calcification, calcification which benefits photosynthesis and carbonate dissolution induced by respiration. The first effect appears when the photosynthetic rate is more than approximately 1.2 larger than that of calcification. This effect is caused by the increase of CO32- content and carbonate saturation degree in seawater. If photosynthesis use molecular carbon dioxide, the second effect occurs when the calcification rate is more than approximately 1.6 times larger than that of photosynthesis. Time series model experiments indicate that photosynthesis and calcification potentially enhance each other and that organic and inorganic carbon is produced more efficiently in the coexisting system than in the isolated reactions. These coexisting effects on production enhancement of photosynthesis and calcification are expected to appear not only in the internal pool of organisms but also in a reef environment which is isolated from the outer ocean during low tide. According to the measurements on the fringing type Shiraho Reef in the Ryukyu Islands, the diurnal change of water properties (pH, total alkalinity, total carbon dioxide and carbonate saturation degree) were conspicuous. This environment offers an appropriate condition for the appearance of these coexisting effects. The photosynthetic enhancement of calcification and the respiratory inducement of decalcification were observed during day-time and night-time slack-water periods, respectively. These coexisting effects, especially the photosynthetic enhancement of calcification, appear to play important roles for fluorishing coral reef communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-280
Number of pages22
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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