PLEISTOCENE CORAL REEF DESTRUCTION IN THE FLORIDA KEYS: PALEOTEMPESTITE EVIDENCE FROM A HIGH RESOLUTION LIDAR XRF ANALYSIS OF WINDLEY KEY QUARRY
Below the discontinuity surface the corals (dominant is Montastrea annularis with Diploria labyrubthiformis, Diploria strigosa, Porites astreoides, Porites porites, Montastraea cavernosa, Siderastrea radians and Siderastrea sidereal) are in growth position and exist today in various stages of aragonite to calcite inversion and solution-reprecipitation. Above the surface are tumbled and dislodged corals of similar diagenetic state, poorly sorted broken sand to cobble-sized rubble, disarticulated molluscs, and low Mg calcite mud. When cutting through coral heads the discontinuity surface is coated by Hi Mg calcite coralline algae. Now to break or fracture the observed Montastrea annularis species would take considerable wave energy (greater than 44 meganewtons/meters2 reported). If due to a hurricane or tsunami, such an event would allow the observed subsequent regrowth or repatriation of the same species under continuous subaqueous conditions and help explain the observed 234Ur-230Th vertical stratigraphic age inversion. These observations suggest this discontinuity surface within the Key Largo Limestone to represent an autocyclic paleotempestite signature of a Pleistocene hurricane or tsunami rather than a short-lived Stage 5e eustatic sea level fall.