Darwin's effort to relate his theory of coral reefs to global tectonic concepts failed to impress geologists more immediately interested in European phenomena. Charles Lyell had initially regarded coral reefs as a way to explain the European Chalk formation. However, he encountered criticism from catastrophist authors who thought the Chalk was a result of chemical precipitation. Lyell embraced Darwin's coral reef theory in an effort to strengthen his argument; and though C. G. Ehrenberg explained the Chalk as the product of fossil Foramanifera, he reinforced the general case in favor of organic deposition as opposed to chemical precipitation. As a result geologists tended to follow Lyell in discussing coral reef formation in the larger context of carbonate deposition generally.

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