The paper, co-authored by Richard Aronson of the Florida Institute of Technology, combined the skills of several universities, including Prof. Steven Vollmer and PhD student David Combosch from Northeastern University.
The study focused on the reefs off the Pacific Coast of Panama. Using a 17-foot-long irrigation pipe, researchers were able to reveal the 6,000-year lifespan of a coral reef. After pulling out the sample, the team discovered that the reef had shut down for 2,500 years—40 percent of its existence.
So what caused this reef to virtually die and come back to life? Researchers say the ocean’s water cycle played a large factor. The hot and cold temperatures from frequent La Nina and El Nino events created an environment that made it difficult for the coral to grow. When the extreme fluctuations in water temperature began to dissipate, the coral came back to life.
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