Holocene isostasy and relative sea-level changes on the east coast of England

TitleHolocene isostasy and relative sea-level changes on the east coast of England
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsShennan I, Lambeck K, Horton B, Innes JB, Lloyd JM, McArthur JJ, Rutherford MM
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Date Published01/2000

Analysis of sea-level data from the east coast of England identifies local-scale and regional scale factors to explain spatial and temporal variations in the altitude of Holocene sea-level index points. The isostatic effect of the glacial rebound process, including both the ice (glacio-isostatic) and water (hydro-isostatic) load contributions, explains regionalscale differences between eight areas: c. 20 m range at 8 cal. ka bp and by 4 cal. ka bp relative sea-level in Northumberland was above present, whereas in areas to the south relative sea level has been below present throughout the Holocene. Estimates for pre-industrial relative sea-level change range from 1.04 ± 0.12 mm a−1 in the Fenland to −1.30 ± 0.68 mm a−1(i.e. sea-level fall) in north Northumberland, although this may overestimate the current rate of sea-level fall. Isostatic effects will produce similar relative differences in rates of sea-level change through the twenty-first century. The data agree closely with the patterns predicted by glacio- and hydro-isostatic models, but small systematic differences along the east coast await testing against new ice models. Local scale processes identified include differential isostatic effects within the Humber Estuary and the Fenland, tide range changes during the Holocene, and the effects of sediment consolidation. These processes help explain the variation in altitude between sea-level reconstructions derived from index points taken from basal peats and those from peats intercalated within thick sequences of Holocene sediments.