Keywords:IODP Expedition 325, Great Barrier Reef, Coralgal assemblages, Sea level changes, Glacial, Deglacial
IODP Expedition 325 drilled 34 boreholes into submerged reef structures along the shelf edge of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The boreholes were drilled between 42 and 167 mbsl at 17 sites along four transects at three geographic locations (Hydrographers Passage, Noggin Pass, and Ribbon Reef). The last glacial to deglacial reef sequence (~8 ka to ~27 ka) varies in thickness from ~5.5 m to ~34 m and consists primarily of coralgal boundstone with various proportions of microbialite. We use a detailed chronostratigraphic scheme based on numerous C14 and U-Th ages to discuss the evolution of the coralgal communities since the last glaciation. Exp. 325 cores show that different phases of sea level change promoted different shallow reef-building coral species at the study sites. The onset of the deglacial (16-19 ka) is characterized by a peak abundance of Seriatopora and Tubipora whereas the following rapid sea level rise (<16 ka) is marked by the dominance of massive Isopora and Acropora with medium- to robust-size branches. The shift in composition of coral communities around 16 ka coincides with the flooding of a pre-LGM MIS2 reef terrace, an event which had a major influence on reef growth and reef composition. We discuss the impact of this event on coralgal communities in the GBR and its significance for Quaternary reef evolution in general.