Holocene relative sea-level changes in the Qaqortoq area, southern Greenland

Charlotte Sparrenbom, O Bennike, Svante Björck, K Lambeck

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Abstract

We present results from an investigation of relative sea-level changes in the Qaqortoq area in south Greenland from c. 11 000 cal. yr BP to the present. Isolation and transgression sequences from six lakes and two tidal basins have been identified using stratigraphical analyses, magnetic susceptibility, XRF and macrofossil analyses. Macrofossils and bulk sediments have been dated by AMS radiocarbon dating. Maximum and minimum altitudes for relative sea level are provided from two deglaciation and marine lagoon sequences. Initially, relative sea level fell rapidly and reached present-day level at similar to 9000 cal. yr BP and continued falling until at least 8800 cal. yr BP. Between 8000 and 6000 cal. yr BP, sea level reached its lowest level of around 6-8 m below highest astronomical tide (h.a.t.). At around 3750 cal. yr BP, sea level has reached above 2.7 m below h.a.t. and continued to rise slowly, reaching the present-day level between similar to 2000 cal. yr BP and the present. As in the Nanortalik area further south, initial isostatic rebound caused rapid isolation of low elevation basins in the Qaqortoq area. Distinct isolation contacts in the sediments are observed. The late Holocene transgression is less well defined and occurred over a longer time interval. The late Holocene sea-level rise implies reloading by advancing glaciers superimposed on the isostatic signal from the North American Ice Sheet. One consequence of this transgression is that settlements of Palaeo-Eskimo cultures from similar to 4000 cal. yr BP may have been transgressed by the sea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-187
JournalBoreas
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geology

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