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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Woodroffe, S.A. Testing models of mid to late Holocene sea-level change, North Queensland, Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2009;28:2474-2488.

Author(s) from Durham


Understanding the nature of global ice-equivalent eustatic sea-level changes during the mid to late Holocene is important to our understanding of how ice sheets will respond to future climate change. This study re-analyses the indicative meaning and age control of existing relative sea-level (RSL) data from Cleveland Bay, North Queensland, Australia and presents new RSL data from a foraminifera-based transfer function as a preliminary test of global geophysical models in this region during the mid to late Holocene. The foraminifera-based transfer function produces reliable RSL estimates, consistent through the mid to late Holocene at different locations in Cleveland Bay. Analysis of the combined RSL database reveals that RSL rose above present between 8 and 6.2 ka cal. BP, with the peak of the sea-level highstand c. 2.8 m above present at c. 5 ka cal. BP, remaining relatively stable above +1.5 m from 6.2 until at least 2.3 ka cal. BP, falling to present in the last millennia. This long period of sea level above present in the mid to late Holocene suggests a gradual rather than abrupt end to global ice melt, which must have continued into the late Holocene. This new analysis also shows no evidence for episodic fluctuations within the highstand, although they cannot be entirely ruled out by this study. This study demonstrates that more sea-level data needs to be collected from locations uncontaminated by glacio-isostasy, hydro-isostasy and tectonic effects, in order to better constrain the late Holocene melt histories of the large polar ice sheets.

Department of Geography