Postglacial Change in Sea Level in the Western North Atlantic Ocean

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Science  11 Aug 1967:
Vol. 157, Issue 3789, pp. 687-692
DOI: 10.1126/science.157.3789.687


Radioactive carbon determinations of the age of peat indicate that at Bermuda, southern Florida, North Carolina, and Louisiana the relative sea level has risen at approximately the same rate, 2.5 x 10-3 foot per year (0.76 x 10-3 meter per year), during the past 4000 years. It is proposed tentatively that this is the rate of eustatic change in sea level. The rise in sea level along the northeastern coast of the United States has been at a rate much greater than this, indicating local subsidence of the land. Between Cape Cod and northern Virginia, coastal subsidence of 13 feet appears to have occurred between 4000 and 2000 years ago and has continued at a rate of about 1 x 10-3 foot per year since then. On the northeastern coast of Massachusetts, subsidence of 6 feet occurred between 4000 and 3000 years ago; since then sea level has risen at about the eustatic rate. Between 12,000 and 4000 years ago, sea level rose at an average of about 11 x 10-3 foot per year. The part played by local subsidence or temporary departures from the average rate during this period is uncertain.