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Reef fossils used as record of past sea level changes

Fossilized coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef could reveal to scientists how sea levels have changed over the past 20,000 years.

Described as the “trees of the sea”, coral have growth rings that show seasonal variations.

Researchers say the samples will also shed light on past sea temperatures, as well as other changes to the reef.

Alan Stevenson, team leader of marine geology at the British Geological Survey (BGS), which is involved in the project, said the fossilised corals’ annual growth rings provided an insight to conditions under waves.

“We can then analyse those rings to build up a very detailed picture of what the ocean was like when they were forming, including temperature and salinity.

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