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Late Holocene sea-level changes and isostasy in western Denmark

  • W. Roland Gehrels (a1), Katie Szkornik (a1), Jesper Bartholdy (a2), Jason R. Kirby (a3), Sarah L. Bradley (a4), William A. Marshall (a1), Jan Heinemeier (a5) and Jørn B.T. Pedersen (a2)...


Cores and exposed cliff sections in salt marshes around Ho Bugt, a tidal embayment in the northernmost part of the Danish Wadden Sea, were subjected to 14C dating and litho- and biostratigraphical analyses to reconstruct paleoenvironmental changes and to establish a late Holocene relative sea-level history. Four stages in the late Holocene development of Ho Bugt can be identified: (1) groundwater-table rise and growth of basal peat (from at least 2300 BC to AD 0); (2) salt-marsh formation (0 to AD 250); (3) a freshening phase (AD 250 to AD 1600?), culminating in the drying out of the marshes and producing a distinct black horizon followed by an aeolian phase with sand deposition; and (4) renewed salt-marsh deposition (AD 1600? to present). From 16 calibrated AMS radiocarbon ages on fossil plant fragments and 4 calibrated conventional radiocarbon ages on peat, we reconstructed a local relative sea-level history that shows a steady sea-level rise of 4 m since 4000 cal yr BP. Contrary to suggestions made in the literature, the relative sea-level record of Ho Bugt does not contain a late Holocene highstand. Relative sea-level changes at Ho Bugt are controlled by glacio-isostatic subsidence and can be duplicated by a glacial isostatic adjustment model in which no water is added to the world's oceans after ca. 5000 cal yr BP.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Fax: +44 1752 233054. E-mail address: (W.R. Gehrels).


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