Important HALO update: Following our recent CSIRO RV Investigator voyage to investigate the Halimeda bioherms in the northern Great Barrier Reef, I wanted to acknowledge the amazing contributions from entire HALO science team – both offshore & shore-based – that contributed to it’s great success. The entire team looks forward now to diving into the post cruise science objectives. To the wider scientific community, if you’re interested in being part of this collaborative project please don’t hesitate to reach out.
HALO Science team members
|Tom Bridge||JCU/Qld Museum||Shore-based|
|Darren Skene||Quaternary Resources||Offshore|
|Mardi McNeil||Geosciences Australia||Offshore|
|Juan Carlos Braga||Universidad de Granada||Offshore|
|Angel Puga-Bernabeu||Universidad de Granada||Shore-based|
|Bethany Behrens||University of Tokyo||Offshore|
|Yuning Zeng||University of Tokyo||Offshore|
|Yusuke Yokoyama||University of Tokyo||Shore-based|
|Dirk Erler||Southern Cross University||Shore-based|
|Willem Renema||Naturalis, Biodiversity Center||Shore-based|
|Pat Hutchings||Australian National Museum||Shore-based|
|Matthew Kosnik||Macquarie University||Shore-based|
|Juliet Sefton||Monash University||Shore-based|
Jun 23, 2018
Hi all, it gives me great pleasure to announce that we have been officially awarded an RV Investigator voyage to study the Halimeda (green calcareous algae) build-ups in the Great Barrier Reef (project details below).
With colleagues from JCU, QUT, UQ, Queensland Museum and overseas, we have been awarded 33 days of shiptime in 2020 from the Marine National Facility.
Important update: Due to COVID-19 the Marine National Facility has now rescheduled this voyage for ~Aug-Sep 2022. This is positive news and voyage planning is well advanced and on track for this new schedule.
Calcareous green alga Halimeda is a major contributor to coral reef shelf sediments and is found along the entire GBR. Previous studies of extensive Halimeda deposits, or bioherms, show they represent important inter-reef habitats and potential carbon sinks in the GBR Marine Park, covering about 26% of the northern shelf area, at least equal to the modern coral reef system. Pioneering work in 70-80s using widely-spaced, singlebeam and seismic profiles indicate the bioherms are in depths of ~20-40 m and form linear ridges and flat-topped mounds up to 20 m thick. However, new bathymetry data reveals a completely different picture of their surface morphology; characterised by complex reticulate (honeycomb-like) shapes and cyclical internal reflectors continuous over 100s of m. These new findings suggest Halimeda bioherms are more complex than previously thought – challenging existing paradigms describing their origin, development and significance.
We will conduct high-resolution multibeam swath mapping and sub-bottom profiling, in conjunction with autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicles (AUVs, ASV, ROV) seabed imaging, and sediment coring at strategic locations. Key scientific objectives of HALO are to:
1) Define the spatial distribution and morphological variation of the Halimeda bioherms;
2) Explore the relationship of the bioherms to the undersea landscape (channels, passages and submarine canyons) and key oceanographic processes;
3) Develop new 3D models explaining their origin and development, generate Holocene paleo-climate data, including novel archives of upwelling, paleo-flooding and water quality;
4) Quantify their total volume/area as a regional geological carbon sink within the context of the global carbon budget; and
5) Assess the importance of the bioherms as modern, inter-reef benthic habitats.
This research will increase our fundamental understanding of the processes that control bioherm development, and have direct implications for environmental managers tasked with predicting how these poorly studied inter-reef environments might respond to future climate change.
Exciting times ahead.