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Darwin, pioneer of reef transects, reef ecology and ancient reef modelling: significance of his Cocos (Keeling) specimens in the Natural History Museum, London
EP24229
Poster Title: Darwin, pioneer of reef transects, reef ecology and ancient reef modelling: significance of his Cocos (Keeling) specimens in the Natural History Museum, London
Submitted on 13 Jul 2016
Author(s): Jill Darrell & Brian Rosen
Affiliations: The Natural History Museum, London
This poster was presented at Modern reefs and reef islands: reflections and resonance of David Stoddart's contribution to coral reef science.
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Abstract: David Stoddart made stimulating contributions to the history of coral reef studies and Darwin’s work in particular, including reproduction of important MS material not previously published. We give interim results of our study of Darwin’s NHM reef specimens from ‘his’ atoll, Cocos (Keeling). Darwin had seized this last chance to test his subsidence theory of coral reefs. He needed to show that reef-builders grew most vigorously along reef fronts and edges since this, for him, was the reason for the saucer-like surface topography of atolls. He made qualitative reef transects across the atoll rim and with FitzRoy and crew, made soundings on the deeper reef front. Darwin put his results on to sketched profiles, pioneering the idea of reef zonation in relation to depth and strength of water movement. We relocated his NHM specimens on these profiles. Darwin also sketched two conceptual reef cross-sections at Cocos (Keeling). They model his ideas on reef accretion on a subsid
ing foundation. His model also shows the influence of Lyell his mentor in using his then new uniformitarian principles to suggest how his model might apply to ancient reefs. Although today Darwin’s model is too simple, because we must add eustatic factors amongst others to his envisaged tectonic subsidence, many of his core ideas have lasted. Also, his model of reef growth is notable for its time for its use of fieldwork and specimens to ‘ground-truth’ his theory. Darwin pioneered studies of reef ecology, reef zonation and a unifying approach to the sedimentology of reef growth, ancient and modern.
Summary: DARWIN, PIONEER OF REEF TRANSECTS, REEF ECOLOGY AND ANCIENT REEF MODELLING: SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS COCOS (KEELING) SPECIMENS IN THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, LONDONReferences: Rosen, B.R.,1982. Darwin, coral reefs and global geology. Bioscience 32, 519-525
Rosen. B.R. & Darrell, J.G., 2010. A generalise historical trajectory for Charles Darwin's specimen collections in the Natural History Museum, London. - In: Stoppa, F & Veraldi, R.(Eds), Darwin tra scienza, storia e societa: 1500 anniversario della publicazione di Origine delle Specie. Roma: Edizionei Universitarie Romane.
Stoddart, D., 1995. Darwin and the Seeing Eye: Iconography and Meaning in the Beagle Years. Earth Sciences History, 14(1): 3-22.
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