Coral Record of Equatorial Sea-Surface Temperatures During the Penultimate Deglaciation at Huon Peninsula

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Science  08 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5399, pp. 202-204
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5399.202

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Uplifted coral terraces at Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea, preserve a record of sea level, sea-surface temperature, and salinity from the penultimate deglaciation. Remnants have been found of a shallow-water reef that formed during a pause, similar to the Younger Dryas, in the penultimate deglaciation at 130,000 ± 2000 years ago, when sea level was 60 to 80 meters lower than it is today.Porites coral, which grew during this period, has oxygen isotopic values and strontium/calcium ratios that indicate that sea-surface temperatures were much cooler (22° ± 2°C) than either Last Interglacial or present-day tropical temperatures (29° ± 1°C). These observations provide further evidence for a major cooling of the equatorial western Pacific followed by an extremely rapid rise in sea level during the latter stages of Termination II.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: Malcolm.McCulloch{at}

  • Present address: School of Geosciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.

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