Hot off the press: Spur and groove morphometrics

A new publication from the GRG has just come out in the journal Geomorphology. This paper used remotely sensed imagery and ground truthing to examine the morphometrics (length, spacing, orientation ect…) of more than 11 thousand spurs and grooves at 17 reefs in the southern Great Barrier Reef. We found that local environmental conditions, particularly wave exposure, were the most important factors determining spur and groove distribution and morphology. We also identified 4 different types of spurs and grooves (see the figure below) and hypothesise that these different types may be formed by different dominant processes. The classification developed here could be applied to other spur and groove systems around the world allowing a better understanding of forereef environments to be achieved using only remotely sensed imagery.

The paper is freely available at this link until the 2 July, 2016:,3sl3XhFG.

Duce, S., Vila-Concejo, A., Hamylton, S.M., Webster, J.M., Bruce, E., Beaman, R.J., 2016. A morphometric assessment and classification of coral reef spur and groove morphology. Geomorphology, 265, 68-83.


Characteristic cross-sections of each spur and groove class (a–d) alongside characteristic plan view images (i, iv, vii, x) and ground truthed images of each class (ii, iii, v, vi, viii, ix, xi, xii). These generic profiles vary in dimensions, but the characteristic shape is the same.

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