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Sedimentologic Succession of Uplifted Coral Community, Urvina Bay, Isabela Island, Galapagos Archipelago, Ecuador

Mitchell W. Colgan, David Hollander

In March 1954, along the west-central coast of Isabela Island, an upward movement of magma suddenly raised Urvina Bay over 6 m and exposed several square kilometers of carbonate deposits covering a young "aa" lava flow (around 1,000 years old). Results from 6 transect lines across the uplift, 30 cores, and 10 trenches describe the sedimentologic and ecologic transition from barren basalt to diverse carbonate sediments with small coral reefs.

Along horizontal transects spanning from 0 to 7 m paleowater depth, there is a seaward progression from beaches, mangroves, and basalt to thick deposits (> 1.6 m) of carbonate sands and small coral reefs. Variation in water depth, degree of wave exposure, and irregularity of the "aa" lava topography provided many microhabitats where coral, calcareous algae, and mollusks settled and grew. Eight hermatypic coral species are found throughout the shelf, and three species (i.e., Pavona clavus, Pocillopora damicornis, and Porites lobata) produced five small, isolated, monospecific, coral-reef frameworks.

The vertical section seen in cores and trenches shows that calcium carbonate increased upward, whereas volcanic sediments decreased; however, episodic layers occur with high concentrations of basaltic sands. In vertical samples from the central portion of the shelf, the coral population changed from small, isolated colonies of Psammocora (Plesioseris) superficalis near the basalt basement to large reef-forming colonies of Pocillopora damicornis farther upsection.

Reefs of the Galapagos Islands are smaller and less diverse than most Pacific reefs. Nonetheless, understanding their temporal successional development should throw light on the origin and history of larger oceanic reefs in the Pacific.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.