Ever since European settlers brought agriculture to Australia, soil has been deposited on the Great Barrier Reef at an accelerated pace, according to new research. The study suggests that the introduction of farming near coastlines can have rapid and continuing consequences offshore.
Eroded sediments that wash down rivers and out to sea can block out sunlight, interfere with corals' feeding, and introduce pathogens to reef communities (SN: 1/30/99, p. 72: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc99/1_30_99/bob1.htm).
To understand how such processes have affected the Great Barrier Reef, Malcolm McCulloch of Australian National University in Canberra and his colleagues drilled cores of coral about 150 kilometers from the mouth of the Burdekin River in Queensland, Australia. Today