Report

Rapid Fluctuations in Sea Level Recorded at Huon Peninsula During the Penultimate Deglaciation

Science  08 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5399, pp. 197-201
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5399.197

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Abstract

About 140,000 years ago, the breakup of large continental ice sheets initiated the Last Interglacial period. Sea level rose and peaked around 135,000 years ago about 14 meters below present levels. A record of Last Interglacial sea levels between 116,000 years to 136,000 years ago is preserved at reef VII of the uplifted coral terraces of Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea. However, corals from a cave situated about 90 meters below the crest of reef VII are 130,000 ± 2000 years old and appear to have grown in conditions that were 6°C cooler than those at present. These observations imply a drop in sea level of 60 to 80 meters. After 130,000 years, sea level began rising again in response to the major insolation maximum at 126,000 to 128,000 years ago. The early (about 140,000 years ago) start of the penultimate deglaciation, well before the peak in insolation, is consistent with the Devils Hole chronology.

  • Present address: Department of Geology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

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