How are corals used in dating past climates?



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    Fossil reefs can provide evidence for the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the build-up and melting of ice sheets on continents.  Dating of coral reefs is accomplished by analyzing samples for radioactive isotopes such as uranium. 

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    Coral is a living organism that uses calcium carbonate to build its exterior harder shell.  The composition and ratio of different isotopes of oxygen and metals can be used to deduce the water temperature and atmospheric conditions of the time in which the calcium carbonate was formed.  They can likely also carbon date the coral skeletons to determine the age, and match temperature and time period.

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