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Recent work in the Caribbean is focusing on Cuba, where we have shown strong correlations between Sr/Ca and SST in Siderastrea siderea corals (Hughen et al. in prep).  This promising work is yielding insights into whether the NAO has changed its spatial fingerprint through time (Hughen et al. in prep).  Corals from the Mesoamerican Reef show that trace elements accurately reflect local water quality and can be used to reconstruct environmental changes linked to human land use and pollution. Barium and manganese reflect proximity to rivers and sediment runoff from coastal mountains, whereas lead and zinc record mining activity, and copper and antimony are elevated near urban harbors and shipping activity (Prouty et al., 2008). Long records of Ba/Ca show a history of increase due to changes in land-use activity and runoff over the past 150 years (Carilli et al., 2009).

Drilling a core from Orbicella faveolata, Cayos Cochinos, Honduras.

Coring a Siderastrea siderea coral colony in Algodon Reef, Gulf of Santa Maria, Cuba

Funding provided by:

Summit Foundation, WHOI Internal awards and Academic Programs, Dalio Explore Fund, The Ocean Foundation



  • Patricia Gonzalez, CIM, U. Havana, Cuba
  • Daria Siciliano, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Nancy Prouty, USGS, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Nathalie Goodkin, EOS, NTU, Singapore

Relevant Publications

  • Hughen, K., Fargher, H., Gonzalez, P., Siciliano, D., Ossolinski, J., Bretos, F., Sea surface temperature calibration using Sr/Ca in a Siderastrea siderea coral from southern Cuba (in preparation, to be submitted to Paleoceanography).
  • Hughen, K., Loke, D., Gonzalez, P., Siciliano, D., Fargher, H., Bretos, F., Ossolinski, J., Goodkin, N., Winter paleotemperature and NAO variability from Cuban corals (in preparation, to be submitted to Paleoceanography).
  • Rodriguez, V., Gonzalez, P., Fernandez, L., Siciliano, D., Bretos, F., Apprill, A., Hughen, K., Santoro, A., 2016, Health of the coral communities on reefs from Jardines de la Reina - golfo de Ana María, south-central region of Cuba, Revista Investigationes Marinas 36, 34-53.
  • Carilli, J, Prouty, N., Hughen, K., Norris, R., 2009, Century-scale records of land-based activities recorded in Mesoamerican coral cores, Marine Pollution Bulletin 58 (12): 1835-1842.
  • Prouty, N.G., Hughen, K.A., Carilli, J., 2007, Geochemical Signature of Land-based Activities in Caribbean Coral Surface Samples, Coral Reefs, doi: 10.1007/s00338-008-0413-4.