Fluctuating sea-level and reversing Monsoon winds drive Holocene lagoon infill in Southeast Asia

Many lagoons surrounded by reefs are partially or completely infilled with reef-derived detrital carbonate sediment. Sediment deposits in such restricted environments are archives of prevailing environmental conditions during lagoon infill. For Indonesia, no paleoenvironmental reconstructions based on Holocene lagoon sediments exist. Here we analyze the sedimentary record obtained from five percussion cores penetrating 10 m into the unconsolidated subsurface of a reef island in the Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia. The combined compositional, textural and chronostratigraphic analyses reveal that the sedimentary infill of the lagoon underlying the island, starting 6900 years cal BP, was interrupted between 5800 and 4400 years cal BP, when sea level was ~ 0.5 m higher than at present, and monsoon intensity was lower. After the intensity of the monsoons increased to modern levels, and sea level dropped to its present position, lagoonal sedimentation was re-initiated and created the foundation for an island that built up since 3000 years cal BP. Our study provides the first geological evidence for the strong sensitivity of detrital carbonate systems in Indonesia to fluctuations in sea level and dominant wind direction. It thus sheds light on how changing environmental conditions in the context of global warming could affect the morphological development of reef systems, and thereby also habitable coastal areas.

Kappelmann, Y., Westphal, H., Kneer, D., Wu, H. C., Wizemann, A., Jompa, J., & Mann, T. (2023). Fluctuating sea-level and reversing Monsoon winds drive Holocene lagoon infill in Southeast Asia. Scientific Reports, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-31976-z

Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. This project was funded through a grant by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (MA 6967/2-1) in the SPP 1889 “Regional Sea Level and Society (SeaLevel)” to TM. Laboratory support was provided by the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT). The authors thank the editor and the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments to improve this manuscript.

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