Paleo sea levels reconsidered from direct observation of paleoshoreline position during Glacial Maxima (for the last 500,000 yr)

Type Article
Date 2006-11
Language English
Author(s) Rabineau MarinaORCID1, 2, Berne Serge2, Olivet Jean-Louis2, Aslanian DanielORCID2, Guillocheau François3, Joseph Philippe4
Affiliation(s) 1 : IUEM, CNRS, UMR6538, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
2 : IFREMER, DRO, GM, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
3 : Univ Rennes 1, Geosci Rennes, F-35042 Rennes, France.
4 : Inst Francais Petr, Div Geol Geochim, F-92506 Rueil Malmaison, France.
Source Earth and Planetary Science Letters (0012-821X) (Elsevier), 2006-11 , Vol. 252 , N. 1-2 , P. 119-137
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2006.09.033
WOS© Times Cited 182
Keyword(s) Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Lions, Golfe du Lion, Subsidence, Glacial maxima, Climatic cycles, Shoreline position, Glacioeustatism, Sea level amplitudes, Sea level changes
Abstract The drastic climatic changes which characterise the cooling trend of the last few million years of Earth history led to variations in eustatic sea level that had tremendous impact on the geology and ecology of continental margins. Reconstructing a sea-level curve back in time is not an easy task. Observations of shoreline positions are always a local measurement of Relative Sea Level that needs to be corrected from the effect of tectonic and thermal subsidence, sediment loading, compaction and glacio-hydro isostasy. Extensive studies have been done for the last deglaciation and for the last 100,000 yr cycle. But very few studies deal with position of sea level during earlier cycles, simply because conditions are very rarely favourable for the preservation of such witnesses. The shelf of the Golfe du Lion (Western Mediterranean) reveals a unique record of shoreline paleopositions during glacial maxima of at least the last five circa 100 kyr glacial/interglacial cycles. In fact it is the entire glacial deltaic lobe of up to 50 m thick (froth delta front or shoreface to prodelta) that has been preserved in place and which provides direct and independent constraints for relative sea-level minima. We measure a relative sea level of: -112m, -128, -134, -246 and -262 m for MIS 2, 6, 8, 10 and 12 respectively. After corrections taking into account postdepositional movement of strata (subsidence), we find, that sea level dropped to a depth of -102 +/- 6 m during the last three glaciations (MIS2, MIS6, MIS8) but reached exceptionally low values of more than -150 +/- 10 m during the preceding glaciations MIS10 and MIS12 at about 340 and 434 kyr BP. This general time framework and sedimentological interpretation has been confirmed by preliminary results from two deep drillings during the PROMESS cruise (July 2004), which validate our methodology. However, no detailed and absolute datings of such witnesses are available so far, so that we cannot prove that these levels are the lowest ever reached during each glacials, but they correspond undoubtedly to the last preserved shoreface before rapid sea-level rise. We also suggest that the abrupt change in sea-level maxima might be the overprint of 400 kyr orbital periodicity cycles. Last but not least, these results prove that the Golfe du Lion is indeed a unique laboratory to study paleoclimates and sea-level variations on a larger time scale. Further work is needed for a complete glacio-hydro-sedimento isostatic modelling of each sequence and each glacial to further constraint local sea level versus global sea level and quantify, in particular the relative effect of glacio-hydro isostatic effect (which differ according to ice sheet extend) but also of erosion-sedimentation isostatic effect (erosion on land and deposition on the outer shelf and slope).
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Rabineau Marina, Berne Serge, Olivet Jean-Louis, Aslanian Daniel, Guillocheau François, Joseph Philippe (2006). Paleo sea levels reconsidered from direct observation of paleoshoreline position during Glacial Maxima (for the last 500,000 yr). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 252(1-2), 119-137. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :