7 A Deglacial Cold-Water Coral Boom in the Alborán Sea: From Coral Mounds and Species Dominance

  • Claudia WienbergEmail author
Part of the Coral Reefs of the World book series (CORW, volume 9)


The two scleractinian cold-water corals Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata are widely distributed in the Alborán Sea. They have been found (alive and fossil) on seamounts, volcanic ridges and mud volcanoes, and they formed coral mounds in the geological past. While the cold-water corals show a reduced occurrence during the last glacial period, they experienced a boom since the last deglaciation until the Early Holocene. The proliferation of cold-water corals during this time is expressed in very high vertical mound aggradation rates of >400 cm kyr−1. Since the mid-Holocene coral mound aggradation significantly slowed-down, which is ascribed to the reduced occurrence of cold-water corals likely supplemented by a reduced sediment supply. During the Holocene, a shift in coral species dominance towards a M. oculata-dominated cold-water coral community becomes apparent. It is speculated that in comparison to L. pertusa, M. oculata has a higher tolerance against the increasing Holocene bottom water temperatures, but is not efficient in building-up mounds likely attributed to its thinly branching framework.


Lophelia pertusa Madrepora oculata Deglaciation Coral mound Mound aggradation Environmental tolerance Alborán Sea 



This study contributes to the project of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) “MoccAMeBo” (grant HE 3412/18). Jürgen Titschack is acknowledged for compiling the map of the Alborán Sea. Claudio Lo Iacono and Paolo Montagna are thanked for their very helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. And finally, all colleagues contributing to the steadily increasing number of coral ages are thanked for their tremendous efforts.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental SciencesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

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