Postglacial relative sea-level histories along the eastern Canadian coastline

TitlePostglacial relative sea-level histories along the eastern Canadian coastline
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsVacch M, Engelhart SE, Nikitina D, Ashe EL, Peltier W R, Roy K, Kopp RE, Horton BP
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Date Published12/2018

We have assembled a database of Relative Sea Level (RSL) data points from the eastern coast of Canada from Hudson Bay to the border with the USA. In compiling this database we have critically reviewed 1092 radiocarbon dated samples from raised beaches, isolation basins, intertidal and marine deposits, and archaeological indicators to produce 405 sea-level index points and 687 sea-level limiting points. Our comprehensive, systematic, and quality-controlled RSL database allowed for the reconstruction of the postglacial evolution of 34 regions of eastern Canada providing new basin-scale insights into the processes driving RSL changes in the last similar to 16 ka. The combination of a database of sea-level index points with an innovative empirical-Bayesian spatio-temporal statistical model provided new insights into rates and magnitude of the spatially-variable glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA), which dominated the postglacial RSL evolution in this sector of North America. A continuous postglacial RSL fall is observed at latitudes >= similar to 50 degrees N with higher rates (up to 35 mm a(-1)) recorded in southeastern Hudson Bay. At lower latitudes, the evolution is non-monotonic with RSL that dropped to a spatially variable early-Holocene lowstand, followed by a mid Holocene highstand and, eventually, a gradual drop to present RSL. This pattern is particularly evident in the St Lawrence corridor. Along the majority of the Newfoundland, New Brunswick and western Nova Scotia coasts, a late-Pleistocene/early-Holocene RSL lowstand was followed by a continuous rise through the Holocene. At the margin of the former ice-sheet (i.e. eastern Nova Scotia), our data identify a continuous RSL rise through the Holocene. These records are characterized by decreasing rates of RSL rise through time, commencing with a rapid rise during the early Holocene (up to similar to 17 mm a(-1)), a slowdown in the mid Holocene (average rates <= similar to 9 mm a(-1)), and a further reduction in the late Holocene (average rates < 2 mm a(-1)). Finally, our database allowed the identification of regions, including the Labrador coast and part of the St Lawrence corridor, where further investigations are required to better constrain the RSL evolution and improve our ability to assess the variability of RSL histories.