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Termination of the Last Glacial Maximum sea-level lowstand: The Sunda-Shelf data revisited

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  • Earth Science
  • Ecology


The sea-level history around the last glaciation is in the focus of recent, controversial debates. A profound understanding of sea-level changes during this time interval is, however, essential since sea level is a central parameter in the climate system as well as a major force on continental margin sedimentation. Here, we present a seismic record together with augmented data from the Sunda Shelf [Hanebuth, T.J.J., Stattegger, K., Saito, Y., 2002. The architecture of the central Sunda Shelf (SE Asia) recorded by shallow-seismic surveying. Geo-Marine Letters 22, 86-94.] and compare our results in a careful evaluation with the sparse existing data sets of global validity, i.e. the Bonaparte Gulf record [Yokoyama, Y., Lambeck. K., DeDeckker. P., Johnston, R. Fifield, L.K., 2000. Timing of the Last Glacial Maximum from observed sea-level minima. Nature 406, 713-716.; Yokoyama, Y., De Deckker, P., Lambeck, K., Johnston, P., Fifield, L.K., 2001. Sea-level at the Last Glacial Maximum: evidence from nortwestern Australia to constrain ice volumes for oxygen isotope stage 2. Paleogeography Paleoclimatology Paleoecology 165, 281-297.], the Barbados coral record [Fairbanks, R.G., 1989. A 17,000-year glacio-eustatic sea level record: influence of glacial melting dates on the Younger Dryas event and deep ocean circulation. Nature 342, 637-642.; Peltier, W.R., Fairbanks, R.G., 2006. Global glacial ice volume and Last Glacial Maximum duration from an extended Barbados sea level record. Quaternary Science Reviews 25 (23-24), 3322-3337.] and the latest numerical model of continental deglaciation [Peltier, W.R., Fairbanks, R.G., 2006. Global glacial ice volume and Last Glacial Maximum duration from an extended Barbados sea level record. Quaternary Science Reviews 25 (23-24), 3322-3337.].Sea level seems to have been lower shortly prior to the conventional Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; 21-19 cal kyr BP). The time interval around this glacial lowstand is not covered by ages from the Sunda Shelf, but documented by an ancient barrier - tidal-flat system. These palaeo-coastal relict forms indicate such an early lowstand some 5 m deeper than sea level was during LGM times. The LGM sea level on the Sunda shelf is recalculated to -123+/-2 m modern water depth. This depth fits nicely with the lowstand data derived from Barbados and the Bonaparte Gulf. The recently assumed 19-kyr sea-level rise is supported by the Sunda and Bonaparte data sets combined, although it might have started already as early as at 19.6 cal kyr BP lasting for some 800 kyr with an amplitude of at least 10 m. This early pulse-like rise might have played a crucial role in the physical preservation of the high-glacial to early deglacial deposits on the Sunda Shelf. The modelled sea-level history is, thus, supported with respect to an initial high-glacial lowstand prior to the LGM, which might be in apparent contrast to observations from Bonaparte. Nevertheless, field data suggest a glacial sea-level evolution about 10 m deeper than the model. Also, the gradual rising trend from 26 to 16 cal kyr BP, as deduced from the model, can definitively not be approved by any field data. However, our knowledge is still unsatisfactory and an expansion of field data from suited areas is urgently needed. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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