Harris, D.L. and Vila-Concejo, A., 2013. Wave transformation on a coral reef rubble platform
Wave transformation across coral reef platforms is the primary process affecting changes in coral reef geomorphology. Transformation regulates the amount of wave energy entering reef systems, however there have been relatively few hydrodynamic assessments conducted on coral reefs when compared to siliciclastic environments with the effects of common geomorphic features like rubble platforms on wave transformation never specifically examined. This study focuses on the changes in wave characteristics across a rubble platform in a high energy environment (One Tree Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef). Wave conditions were measured at five locations over two days along a cross-reef transect from the reef rim to lagoon. Most of the wave energy was dissipated during wave breaking with energy attenuation due to bottom friction a secondary process. Wave energy attenuation was between 60–99% of the offshore wave conditions only during high tide would wave propagation across the reef platform be capable of affecting reef geomorphology. The wave spectrum also changed with the shorter period gravity wave energy (3 – 20 s) almost completely expending during transformation while longer period infragravity waves (20 – 300 s) were capable of propagating across the reef platform. Wave heights were depth limited and primarily controlled by water depth which suggests that water depth over the reef platform and subsequently elevation of the reef platform above mean sea level govern the amount of wave energy transferred across into reef systems, with most of the gravity wave energy removed during propagation over coral rubble platforms.