A 300000 years coral reef record of sea level changes, Mururoa atoll (Tuamotu archipelago, French Polynesia)

Camoin, G. F., Ebren, P., Eisenhauer, Anton, Bard, E. and Faure, G. (2001) A 300000 years coral reef record of sea level changes, Mururoa atoll (Tuamotu archipelago, French Polynesia) Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 175 . pp. 325-341. DOI 10.1016/S0031-0182(01)00378-9.

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The accurate dating of fossil coral reefs is of prime importance in determining the timing of deglaciation events and thus understanding the mechanisms driving glacial–interglacial cycles. So far, the most useful coral reef records of past sea level changes are those related to the last deglaciation and the Last Interglacial period. U/Th ages for older isotopic stages are more limited, due to the scarcity of datable material, reflecting diagenetic alteration. Most data are from emergent parts of reefs and reef terraces in active subduction zones where relative sea level records may be biased by variations in rates of tectonic uplift. New constraints on sea level changes over the past 300 000 yr are based on high-precision U-series age measurements of successive reef units on Mururoa. These have been cored in four continuous 300-m-long drill holes with seaward inclinations of 30 to 45° on the northeastern rim of the atoll. Past sea level positions have been calculated from the radiometric ages of corals by correcting the present depth of subsurface horizons both for thermal subsidence and for depositional palaeodepth. The location of this atoll at a considerable distance from former ice sheets (‘far field’) minimises the influence of glacio–isostatic rebound. Prominent units formed during four periods of relative sea level highstands, including the Holocene and stages 5 (∼125 ka), 7 (∼212 ka) and 9 (∼332 ka). These are primarily composed of coralgal frameworks that grew in very shallow water. Three periods of relative low stand correspond to stages 2 (∼17–23 ka), 4 (∼60 ka) and 8 (∼270 ka) during which small reefs developed in association with large bioclastic accumulations. Good agreement with the timing of sea level changes based on oxygen isotope measurements in deep-sea cores is noted for most of the dated reef units. We report here the first accurate coral record of the Last Glacial Maximum in the Pacific, 135–143 m below the present sea surface, suggesting that sea level may have been lower than expected during this period.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Quaternary; reefs; corals; Mururoa; atolls; sea level changes; radiometric ages; isotopic stages; French Polynesia
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/S0031-0182(01)00378-9
ISSN: 0031-0182
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:25
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2017 14:07
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/3274

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