Drivers of Holocene sea-level change in the Caribbean

TitleDrivers of Holocene sea-level change in the Caribbean
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsKhan NS, Ashe E, Horton BP, Dutton A, Kopp RE, Brocard G, Engelhart SE, Hill DF, Peltier WRichard, Vane CH, Scatena FN
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Date Published01/2017
KeywordsCaribbean, Glacial-isostatic adjustment, Hierarchical statistical modeling, Holocene, Relative sea level, Vertical tectonic motion

We present a Holocene relative sea-level (RSL) database for the Caribbean region (5°N to 25°N and 55°W to 90°W) that consists of 499 sea-level index points and 238 limiting dates. The database was compiled from multiple sea-level indicators (mangrove peat, microbial mats, beach rock and acroporid and massive corals). We subdivided the database into 20 regions to investigate the influence of tectonics and glacial isostatic adjustment on RSL. We account for the local-scale processes of sediment compaction and tidal range change using the stratigraphic position (overburden thickness) of index points and paleotidal modeling, respectively. We use a spatio-temporal empirical hierarchical model to estimate RSL position and its rates of change in the Caribbean over 1-ka time slices. Because of meltwater input, the rates of RSL change were highest during the early Holocene, with a maximum of 10.9 ± 0.6 m/ka in Suriname and Guyana and minimum of 7.4 ± 0.7 m/ka in south Florida from 12 to 8 ka. Following complete deglaciation of the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) by ∼7 ka, mid-to late-Holocene rates slowed to < 2.4 ± 0.4 m/ka. The hierarchical model constrains the spatial extent of the mid-Holocene highstand. RSL did not exceed the present height during the Holocene, except on the northern coast of South America, where in Suriname and Guyana, RSL attained a height higher than present by 6.6 ka (82% probability). The highstand reached a maximum elevation of +1.0 ± 1.1 m between 5.3 and 5.2 ka. Regions with a highstand were located furthest away from the former LIS, where the effects from ocean syphoning and hydro-isostasy outweigh the influence of subsidence from forebulge collapse.