School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

A new Late Holocene sea-level record from the Mississippi Delta: evidence for a climate/sea level connection?

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A detailed relative sea-level (RSL) record was constructed for the time interval 600–1600 AD, using basal peat to track sea level and containing 16 sea-level index points that capture ∼60 cm of RSL rise. The study area is in the Mississippi Delta where the spring tidal range is ∼0.47 m, the impact of ocean currents on sea-surface topography is limited, and crustal motions are well constrained. Age control was obtained by AMS 14C dating and most ages represent weighted means of two subsamples. Sample elevations were determined by combining differential GPS measurements with optical surveying. All index points were plotted as error boxes using 2σ confidence intervals for the ages, plus all vertical errors involved in sampling and surveying, as well as the indicative range of the samples. A striking clustering of sea-level index points between ∼1000 and ∼1200 AD suggests a possible acceleration in the rate of RSL rise. Removal of the long-term trend (0.60 mm yr−1) allows for the possibility of a sea-level oscillation with a maximum amplitude of ∼55 cm. However, given the size of the error boxes the possibility that oscillations did not occur cannot be entirely ruled out. Comparison of the new RSL record with various proxy climate records suggests that sea level in this area may have responded to hemispheric temperature changes, including the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. However, given the error margins associated with this reconstruction, it is stressed that this causal mechanism is tentative and requires corroboration by high-resolution sea-level reconstructions elsewhere.


Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Quaternary Science Reviews