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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Long, A.J., Woodroffe, S.A., Dawson, S., Roberts, D.H. & Bryant, L.M. Late Holocene relative sea level rise and the Neoglacial history of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Jounal of Quaternary Science. 2009;24:345-359.

Author(s) from Durham


In West Greenland, early and mid Holocene relative sea level (RSL) fall was replaced by late Holocene RSL rise during the Neoglacial, after 4-3 cal. ka BP (thousand calibrated years before present). Here we present the results of an isolation basin RSL study completed near to the coastal town of Sisimiut, in central West Greenland. RSL fell from 14 m above sea level at 5.7 cal. ka BP to reach a lowstand of -4.0 m at 2.3-1.2 cal. ka BP, before rising by an equivalent amount to present. Differences in the timing and magnitude of the RSL lowstand between this and other sites in West and South Greenland record the varied interplay of local and non-Greenland RSL processes, notably the reloading of the Earth's crust caused by a Neoglacial expansion of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) and the subsidence associated with the collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet forebulge. This means that the timing of the sea level lowstand cannot be used to infer directly when the GIS advanced during the Neoglacial. The rise in Late Holocene RSL is contrary to recently reported bedrock uplift in the Sisimiut area, based on repeat GPS surveys. This indicates that a belt of peripheral subsidence around the current ice sheet margin was more extensive in the late Holocene, and that there has been a switch from subsidence to uplift at some point in the last thousand years or so.

Department of Geography