Paper No. 249-6
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM
UNDERSTANDING THE MURKY HISTORY OF THE CORAL TRIANGLE: MIOCENE CORALS AND REEF HABITATS OF INDONESIA
Studies on ancient coral communities living in marginal conditions including for example low light, high turbidity, extreme temperatures, or high nutrients are important to understand the current structure of reefs and how they could potentially respond to global changes. The main goal of this study is to document the rich and well-preserved fossil coral fauna preserved in Miocene exposures of the Kutai Basin in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Our collections include almost forty thousand specimens collected from 47 outcrops. Seventy-nine genera and 234 species have been identified. Three different coral assemblages were found corresponding to small patch reefs that developed under the influence of high siliciclastic inputs from the Mahakam Delta. Coral assemblages vary in richness, structure, and composition. Platy coral assemblages are common until the Serravallian (Middle Miocene), while branching coral assemblages become dominant in the Tortonian (Late Miocene). By the late Tortonian massive coral assemblages dominated, similar to modern-style coral framework. Our results also suggest that challenging habitats, such as the Miocene turbid habitats of East Kalimantan, might have played an important role during the early diversification of the Coral Triangle by hosting a pool of resilient species more likely to survive the further environmental changes that have affected this region since the Cenozoic. Further research that integrates fossil and recent turbid habitats may provide a glimpse into the dynamics and future of coral reefs as “typical” clear-water reefs continue to decline in most regions.