by S. Xu et al., December 2017, in AGU1000Biogeosciences
Coral bleaching is becoming a serious issue for coral reefs under the stress of global warming. However, whether it has occurred in the past in times of thermal stress remains unclear. Moreover, an understanding of historic coral bleaching events would greatly improve our insight into the adaptive capabilities of corals under such stresses. It is known that Porites corals, a massive coral, have relatively high levels of symbiotic zooxanthellae and a strong thermal tolerance when compared with most other corals (and particularly branched corals). Thus, growth hiatuses and/or mortality surfaces of fossil Porites may be used to indicate past ecological or environmental stress events, such as severe bleaching. In this study, monthly geochemical and isotopic environmental proxies of four fossil Porites corals with well‐preserved growth hiatuses and mortality surfaces (aged 3,800–4,200 years before 2013 A.D.), collected from Wenchang fringing reef, Hainan Island, Northern South China Sea were analyzed. Specifically, the Sr/Ca, δ18O, and δ13C were measured with a monthly resolution for each sample.