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Middle and Late Holocene Sea-Level Changes in Eastern Maine Reconstructed from Foraminiferal Saltmarsh Stratigraphy and AMS 14C Dates on Basal Peat

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

W.Roland Gehrels
Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, United Kingdom. E-mail:
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A relative sea-level history is reconstructed for Machiasport, Maine, spanning the past 6000 calendar year and combining two different methods. The first method establishes the long-term (103 yr) trend of sea-level rise by dating the base of the Holocene saltmarsh peat overlying a Pleistocene substrate. The second method uses detailed analyses of the foraminiferal stratigraphy of two saltmarsh peat cores to quantify fluctuations superimposed on the long-term trend. The indicative meaning of the peat (the height at which the peat was deposited relative to mean tide level) is calculated by a transfer function based on vertical distributions of modern foraminiferal assemblages. The chronology is determined from AMS 14C dates on saltmarsh plant fragments embedded in the peat. The combination of the two different approaches produces a high-resolution, replicable sea-level record, which takes into account the autocompaction of the peat sequence. Long-term mean rates of sea-level rise, corrected for changes in tidal range, are 0.75 mm/yr between 6000 and 1500 cal yr B.P. and 0.43 mm/yr during the past 1500 year. The foraminiferal stratigraphy reveals several low-amplitude fluctuations during a relatively stable period between 1100 and 400 cal yr B.P., and a sea-level rise of 0.5 m during the past 300 year.

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University of Washington

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Middle and Late Holocene Sea-Level Changes in Eastern Maine Reconstructed from Foraminiferal Saltmarsh Stratigraphy and AMS 14C Dates on Basal Peat
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