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Late Pleistocene Sea Level History of Bermuda

  • Russell S. Harmon (a1), Henry P. Schwarcz (a2) and Derek C. Ford (a3)


The timing of eustatic sea level fluctuations over the vertical range + 15 to −11 m has been deduced from 230Th/234U dating of Bermudan corals and speleothems. On this tectonically stable carbonate island, interglacial periods are characterized by platform submergence, development of patch reefs, and the deposition of littoral and eolian carbonates, whereas glacial periods are times of platform emergence, carbonate diagenesis, soil development, and the deposition of speleothems in caves extending below present sea level. Interglacial periods are observed at about 200,000, 130,000 to 90,000, and 10,000 yr BP to present. The sea level history of the last interglacial period (130,000 to 90,000 yr BP) is complex, consisting of at least two short, distinct episodes of high sea stand (at 125,000 and 97,000 yr BP) superimposed on a longer period of general platform submergence. The sea level data derived from this study are compatible with those from other stable areas such as the Bahamas, but in addition suggest that eustatic sea level changes can be rapid, on the order of 5 to 10 m/1000 yr.



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