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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Journal of Sedimentary Research (SEPM)


Journal of Sedimentary Petrology
Vol. 38 (1968)No. 1. (March), Pages 73-78

Sabellariid Worms: Builders of a Major Reef Type

David W. Kirtley, William F. Tanner


Sabellariid worms build extensive wave-deforming reefs along tropical and subtropical coasts; they may be, in fact, among the important reef-producing agents in the world. A stretch of worm reefs built by Phragmatapoma lapidosa has been studied in detail along 320 km of the Lower East Florida coast, (U.S.A.), where the reef system is essentially continuous. Related species are reported from other places in Florida. The ability of the worms to thrive under high-energy breaker conditions and to extend their colonial tube masses upward and seaward by extraction and agglutination of littoral drift materials, makes them highly important factors in the development of the coastline. Beachrock, converted from the reefs, and materials impounded on their landward sides, provide for actua progradation of the beach. The activities of these organisms are, therefore, important to the zoologist, oceanographer, coastal engineer, and geologist. The latter may find that the same or closely related forms have also been instrumental in building and protecting beaches of the geological past and in exerting control over the evolution of shorelines.

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