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Little Ice Age subsidence and post Little Ice Age uplift at Juneau, Alaska, inferred from dendrochronology and geomorphology

  • Roman J. Motyka (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Application of dendrochronology and geomorphology to a recently emerged coastal area near Juneau, Alaska, has documented a Little Ice Age (LIA) sea-level transgression to 6.2 m above current sea level. The rise in relative sea level is attributed to regional subsidence and appears to have stabilized by the mid 16th century, based on a sea-cliff eroded into late-Pleistocene glaciomarine sediments. Land began emerging between A.D. 1770 and 1790, coincident with retreat of regional glaciers from their LIA maximums. This emergence has continued since then, paralleling regional glacier retreat. Total Juneau uplift since the late 18th century is estimated to be 3.2 m. The rate of downward colonization of newly emergent coastline by Sitka spruce during the 20th century closely parallels the rate of sea-level fall documented by analysis of local tide-gauge records (1.3 cm/yr). Regional and Glacier Bay LIA loading and unloading are inferred to be the primary mechanisms driving subsidence and uplift in the Juneau area. Climate change rather then regional tectonics has forced relative sea-level change over the last several hundred years.

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Corresponding author

*Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, 835 Dixon Street, Juneau, AK 99801, USA. Fax: +1-907-586-5774. Email Address: jfrjm@uas.alaska.edu

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Quaternary Research
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