A sea-level database for the Pacific coast of central North America

TitleA sea-level database for the Pacific coast of central North America
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsEngelhart, SE, Vacchi, M, Horton, BP, Nelson, AR, Kopp, RE
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Pagination78 - 92
Date PublishedJan-04-2015
KeywordsCascadia subduction zone, Glacial isostatic adjustment, Holocene, Pacific North America, Sea-level database

A database of published and new relative sea-level (RSL) data for the past 16 ka constrains the sea-level histories of the Pacific coast of central North America (southern British Columbia to central California). Our reevaluation of the stratigraphic context and radiocarbon age of sea-level indicators from geological and archaeological investigations yields 600 sea-level index points and 241 sea-level limiting points. We subdivided the database into 12 regions based on the availability of data, tectonic setting, and distance from the former Cordilleran ice sheet. Most index (95%) and limiting points (54%) are <7 ka; older data come mainly from British Columbia and San Francisco Bay. The stratigraphic position of points was used as a first-order assessment of compaction. Formerly glaciated areas show variable RSL change; where data are present, highstands of RSL occur immediately post-deglaciation and in the mid to late Holocene. Sites at the periphery and distant to formerly glaciated areas demonstrate a continuous rise in RSL with a decreasing rate through time due to the collapse of the peripheral forebulge and the reduction in meltwater input during deglaciation. Late Holocene RSL change varies spatially from falling at 0.7 ± 0.8 mm a−1 in southern British Columbia to rising at 1.5 ± 0.3 mm a−1 in California. The different sea-level histories are an ongoing isostatic response to deglaciation of the Cordilleran and Laurentide Ice Sheets.