photo courtesy of D. Manzello

photo courtesy of D. Manzello

Coral reef growth in the galapagos

Extreme temperature events have led to mass coral die-offs in the Galapagos and high levels of erosion have, in several locations, led to a loss of reef structure. On top of this, upwelling in the southern islands results in higher concentrations of CO2 and localized acidification. We are interested in how coral growth and erosion change over time. Coral skeletons have yearly bands, similar to tree rings. We can drill small core samples underwater and analyze them in a CT scanner to look at how growth and erosion occur year to year. The photo above is from Corona del Diablo in the Galapagos. The video to the right shows a scan of a coral skeleton and the density bands that signify yearly growth.

Photo mosaics in 3D

Press play on the image above and use your mouse to zoom in and explore the site where I was coring above. If you look closely you can see the white patches where we carefully seal up the core hole to protect the coral. These 3D images are constructed from hundreds of individual photos that are spliced together by a computer, resulting in a file that we can use to monitor both coral cover and reef framework structure.