Sea-level change and subsidence in the Delaware Estuary during the last ∼2200 years

TitleSea-level change and subsidence in the Delaware Estuary during the last ∼2200 years
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsNikitina DL, Kemp AC, Engelhart SE, Horton BP, Kopp RE
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Date Published10/2015
KeywordsGlacial-isostatic adjustment, New Jersey, Peat, Salt marsh, The U.S. Atlantic coast, Tidal range

We produced eight new sea-level index points that reconstruct a ∼2.5 m relative sea-level (RSL) rise at Sea Breeze in the Delaware Bay from ∼200 BCE to 1800 CE. The precision of our reconstruction improved upon existing data by using high-resolution surveying methods, AMS radiocarbon dating of in-situ plant macrofossils collected immediately above the basal contact between pre-Holocene sand and salt-marsh sediments, foraminifera as sea-level indicators, and by accounting for tidal range changes through time. Our new data were combined with a database of 65 sea-level index points available for the Delaware Bay to estimate the rate of RSL rise in the upper (1.26 ± 0.33 mm/yr) and lower bay (1.30 ± 0.36 mm/yr) using a spatial-temporal model. Correction for changes in tidal range through time removed the disparity in rate between the upper and lower Delaware Bay that had previously been postulated. After paleotidal correction, the rates of RSL rise estimated for the Delaware Bay (1.25 ± 0.27 mm/yr) correlate with the ∼1.3 mm/yr rate reported for New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, and confirm that the maximal ongoing forebulge collapse along the U.S. Atlantic coast is focused on the mid-Atlantic.