Holocene relative sea-level changes in Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK

Jason T. Jordan, David E. Smith, Sue Dawson, Alastair G. Dawson

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    32 Citations (Scopus)


    Evidence for relative sea-level changes during the middle and late Holocene is examined from two locations on the Atlantic coast of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, using morphological mapping and survey, stratigraphical, grain size and diatom analysis, and radiocarbon dating. The earliest event identified is a marine flood, which occurred after 7982-8348 cal. a (7370 +/- 80 C-14 a) BP, when the sea crossed a threshold lying at -0.08 m Ordnance Datum Newlyn (OD) (-2.17 m mean high water springs (MHWS)) before withdrawing. This could have been clue to a storm or to the Holocene Storegga Slide tsunami. By 6407-6122 cal. a (5500 +/- 60 C-14 a) BP, relative sea levels had begun to fall from a sandflat surface with an indicated MHWS level of between 0.08 and -1.96 m (-2.01 to -4.05 m). This fall reached between -0.30 and -2.35 m (-2.39 to -4.44 m) after 5841-5050 cal. a (4760 +/- 130 C-14 a) BP, but was succeeded by a relative sea-level rise which reached between 0.54 and -1.57 m (-1.55 to -3.66 m) by 5450-4861 cal. a (4500 +/- 100 C-14 a) BP. This rise continued, possibly with an interruption, until a second sandflat surface was reached between 2.34 and -0.26 m (0.25 to -2.35 m) between 2952-3375 cal. a (3000 +/- 80 C-14 a) and 1948-2325 cal. a (2130 +/- 70 C-14 a) BP, before present levels were reached. The regressive episode froth the earliest sandflat is correlated with the abandonment of the Main Postglacial Shoreline. It is maintained that the fluctuations in relative sea level recorded can be correlated with similar events elsewhere on the periphery of the glacio-isostatic centre and may therefore reflect secular changes in nearshore sea surface levels. Despite published evidence from trim lines of differential ice sheet loading across the area, no evidence of variations in uplift between the locations concerned could be found. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)115-134
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


    • Morphology
    • Stratigraphy
    • Grain size
    • Diatoms
    • Radiocarbon dating
    • Holocene
    • Relative sea-level changes
    • Glacio-isostasy
    • Harris, Outer Hebrides


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