Diamond X-rays were used in a recent study that suggests climate change is triggering changes to the chemistry of deep-sea coral reefs which may cause their foundations to become brittle.
Reefs are home to a multitude of aquatic life and the underlying structures of these reefs could fracture as a result of increasing ocean acidity caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide.
Researchers measured the lowest and most acidic pH level ever recorded on living coral reefs hundreds of metres below the surface of the ocean in Southern California. The corals were then raised in the lab for one year under the same conditions.
Scientists observed that the skeletons of dead corals, which support and hold up living corals, had become porous due to ocean acidification and rapidly become too fragile to bear the weight of the reef above them. The Diamond Manchester Imaging Branchline (I13-2) enabled the team to retrieve phase sensitive images that revealed gradients and de-mineralisation profiles in the coral samples.
Read more on the Diamond website
Image: Lophelia pertusa skeleton with evidence of dissolution around the outside walls. Image: Sebastian Hennige