The relationship between water motion and living rhodolith beds in the southwestern Gulf of California, Mexico

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Marrack, E. C. (1999). The relationship between water motion and living rhodolith beds in the southwestern Gulf of California, Mexico. Palaios, 14(2), 159-171. doi:10.2307/3515371
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TitleThe relationship between water motion and living rhodolith beds in the southwestern Gulf of California, Mexico
AuthorsE. Marrack
AbstractFree living, nodular aggregates of non-geniculate coralline algae (rhodoliths) have occurred since the Cenozoic in diverse marine environments around the world. Fossil rhodolith morphology and distribution have been widely used as paleoecological indicators, particularly of water motion. However, few studies have verified these relationships in living beds. The relationship between water motion and rhodolith movement was examined in three subtidal rhodolith beds off the southwestern coast of the Gulf of California, one dominated by wave action and two dominated by tidal currents. Field experiments and simultaneous video and current measurements taken during winter 1996 showed that rhodoliths in the shallow margins (4.5 m depths) of wave-dominated beds moved frequently due to threshold-level velocities from wind-propagated waves. Rhodoliths did not move in the middle and at deep margins of the bed due to attenuation of wave energy. Historical wind records and waveforcasting analysis indicate that shallow rhodolith movement is frequent only in the winter. In deep tidally dominated beds, maximum yearly tidal currents were not sufficient to move rhodoliths. Video and SCUBA surveys showed that bioturbation is an important mechanism for rhodolith movement in all beds. Rhodoliths in 12-m-deep tidally dominated beds and in the deep margins of wave-dominated beds appear to move only occasionally due to bioturbation and severe storms. Results imply that rhodolith morphology and distribution are dependent on a combination of factors. These factors, especially bioturbation, should be considered when using rhodoliths as paleoecological indicators.
JournalPalaios
Date1999
Volume14
Issue2
Start page159
End page171
ISSN08831351
Subjectscoralline alga, paleoecology, rhodolith, tidal current, wave action
NoteCited By (since 1996):66

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