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Tropical tales of polar ice: evidence of Last Interglacial polar ice sheet retreat recorded by fossil reefs of the granitic Seychelles islands
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2015 (English)In: Quaternary Science Reviews, ISSN 0277-3791, E-ISSN 1873-457X, Vol. 107, 182-196 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the search for a record of eustatic sea level change on glacial-interglacial timescales, the Seychelles ranks as one of the best places on the planet to study. Owing to its location with respect to the former margins of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets that wax and wane on orbital cycles, the local-or relative-sea level history is predicted to lie within a few meters of the globally averaged eustatic signal during the Last Interglacial period. We have surveyed and dated Last Interglacial fossil corals to ascertain peak sea level and hence infer maximum retreat of polar ice sheets during this time interval. We observe a pattern of gradually rising sea level in the Seychelles between similar to 129 and 125 thousand years ago (ka), with peak eustatic sea level attained after 125 ka at 7.6 +/- 1.7 m higher than present. After accounting for thermal expansion and loss of mountain glaciers, this sea-level budget would require similar to 5-8 m of polar ice sheet contribution, relative to today's volume, of which only similar to 2 m came from the Greenland ice sheet. This result clearly identifies the Antarctic ice sheet as a significant source of melt water, most likely derived from one of the unstable, marine-based sectors in the West and/or East Antarctic ice sheet. Furthermore, the establishment of a +5.9 +/- 1.7 m eustatic sea level position by 128.6 +/- 0.8 ka would require that partial AIS collapse was coincident with the onset of the sea level highstand.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 107, 182-196 p.
Keyword [en]
Sea level, U-Th, MIS 5e, Coral, Seychelles
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113962DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.10.025ISI: 000347586100012OAI: diva2:789876


Available from: 2015-02-20 Created: 2015-02-16 Last updated: 2015-02-20Bibliographically approved

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Wohlfarth, Barbara
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Department of Geological Sciences
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