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COREF - Continental Scientific Drilling Into Coral Reefs



COREFThe COREF Project is designed to perform continental scientific drilling into Quaternary reef-complex deposits in different settings in the Ryukyu Islands. Major scientific objectives are to verify the following hypotheses:

  1. The northern and southern limits of reef formation, herein termed the 'coral-reef fronts', are considered to have migrated to higher and lower latitudes, respectively, responding to Quaternary global warming and cooling and associated rapid, cyclic changes in climate and oceanographic conditions as well as glacioeustatic sea-level rises and falls. It is very important to delineate the nature and magnitude of the coral-reef front migration in order to clarify the climatic/oceanographic factors controlling the reef formation.
  2. Examinations of Pleistocene coral communities in the proximal parts of coral-reef province indicate that the taxonomic composition has remained constant over a long period of time. In the Central Ryukyus, however, some corals characteristic to warm temperate regions of the mainland Japan have been found from the limestone deposited in glacial periods in Pleistocene time. Consequently, there exists a possibility that coral reef ecosystem has highly varied responding to climatic changes on millennial to glacial-interglacial timescales.
  3. The Quaternary coral reefs may have contributed to abrupt climatic changes through a positive feedback mechanism. Carbonate production rates of reefs may have been accelerated during a transgression, because the atmospheric CO2 concentration increased due to the carbonate precipitation in the sea, resulting in a rise in atmospheric temperature. The Quaternary carbonate accumulation rates in coral reefs are considered as a good example to testify this hypothesis.

(Photo ©:Yasufumi Iryu)



Asia, Japan, Ryukyu Islands



30° 44' N, 131° 0' E (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  • drilling operations are planned for January to June 2013


Programs and Funding


Principal Investigators
  • Yasufumi Iryu, Tohoku University, Department of Earth Science, Paleo-Environment Change Research Group
  • Hiroki Matsuda, Kumamoto University, Department of Earth Science
  • Hideaki Machiyama, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology Center, Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research
  • Werner Erwin Piller, University of Graz, Institute for Earth Sciences
  • Terrence M. Quinn, University of Texas at Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences, Department of Geological Sciences, Institute of Geophysics
  • Maria Mutti, University of Potsdam, Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Sedimentology


Partners and Contractors



Climate Change, Coral Reef Drilling, COREF, Geobiosphere, Global Environment, ICDP-2006/08, Japan, Paleoclimatology, Quaternary, Ryukyu Islands, Sea-level Changes


Current State



Google Earth/Maps