How should the reef database be cited?
Please use the following citation style whenever using data in the public:
Kiessling, W., and Krause, M. C., 2021, PARED - An online database of Phanerozoic reefs: https://www.paleo-reefs.pal.uni-erlangen.de/
What is a reef?
Originally defined by mariners as any shallow and hard submarine structure potentially hazardous to vessels, the term reef is restricted in earth sciences to mean laterally confined carbonate bodies built by sessile benthic aquatic organisms. This definition is broad enough to include reef structures of all ages, yet precise enough to identify reefs as a recurring biological phenomenon. There are several more constrained definitions of reefs, but for the purpose of the database compilation a broad definition seemed to be most appropriate.
Four basic reef types are defined : (1) True reefs with a rigid framework of skeletal reef builders; (2) reef mounds, where skeletal reef builders and matrix are about equally important; (3) mud mounds, where skeletal organisms are minor constituents; and (4) biostromes; where dense growth of skeletal organisms occurs but no significant depositional relief is evident. Although the broad definition of reefs lumps many different carbonate bodies that are not commonly described as reefs, only this definition allows one to describe and compare the reef ecosystem through time and space.
What is the PaleoReef Database?
The PaleoReef Database (or just PaleoReefs) is an electronic compilation of all marine reefal structures from the pre-Quaternary Phanerozoic, that is, from 543 million years to 2 million years before the present. Data were mostly extracted from the published literature but personal observations and communications were also incorporated.
Who developed the paleogeographic maps?
Jan Golonka (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland) developed the plate tectonic models and paleogeographic maps during his time with Mobil in Dallas/Texas. The original maps and codes were developed with Chris Scotese (Paleomap project). The design of the maps and slight modifications to the land/sea distribution was done by Wolfgang Kiessling.
What can you do with the database?
The online database is publicly available and can be used for free, but only for non-commercial purposes. The database was specifically designed for professional earth system scientists and interested amateurs. You can create global reef maps by going to the appropriate time slice and either set filters (upper left) or assign different colors and symbols (upper right) to particular reef attributes. The maps can be downloaded and used in scientific presentations and for educational purposes, but should always be accompanied by proper citation. The reef data can be extracted for each reef separately by clicking on a reef. You can access several reefs at once by drawing a rectangle with your mouse. There is currently no option to download the whole dataset.
What data are now in the database?
The database hosts data on currently 4029 reefs and stores information on reef composition and geometry, depositional environment, petrography, and (paleo)geography.
Why are there no maps of modern reefs?
A detailed compilation of modern reefs has been developed independently already. Data and maps are also available online and we did not want to reproduce those efforts. We also did not consider Pleistocene-Holocene reefs because the time resolution is in an order of magnitude higher as possible for Pleistocene reefs.
What do the time slices represent?
Thirty-two time slices were used encompassing the time between the earliest Cambrian and the late Miocene/Pliocene. The time slices correspond to super-sequences, which are defined by second-order fluctuations of eustatic sea level. Thus the time slices represent time intervals that may embrace several stages or transit system boundaries, but may also cut stages. The philosophy behind this approach is a more natural subdivision of the geological record not biased by regional differences and not a priori influenced by biological evolution.
What will happen in the future?
The online database will be updated every six months (June 1 and December 1 of each year). In the near future zoom functions. Additional features can be realized depending on demand from the public.