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Paul Henderson snorkels to look for corals

Coral Reconnaissance

Paul Henderson, a researcher in WHOI’s Coastal Groundwater Geochemistry Lab, snorkels near the Yucatan Peninsula to look for large corals for a study of groundwater flow. Because the Yucatan is largely limestone, it is very porous and the groundwater tends to flow in channels ranging from a few centimeters to several meters across. Where the channels intersect the coast, higher water pressures inland push the groundwater into the sea, bringing with it a unique mix of chemicals, some of which get incorporated into the skeletons of growing corals. Samples of the skeletons contain chemical clues to the history of groundwater flow in the area, and the bigger the coral, the farther back in time the record goes. (Photo courtesy of Meagan Gonneea, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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