The influence of rock uplift rate on the formation and preservation of individual marine terraces during multiple sea level stands

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Luca Claude Malatesta , Noah J. Finnegan , Kimberly L. Huppert , Emily I. Carreño 


Marine terraces are a cornerstone for the study of paleo sea level and crustal deformation. Commonly, individual erosive marine terraces are attributed to unique sea level high-stands. This stems from early reasoning that erosive marine platforms could only be significantly widened at the beginning of an interglacial. However, this implies that wave erosion is insignificant during the vast majority of sea level history. Here, we postulate that the total duration of sea level occupation at a bedrock elevation is a proxy for the erosion potential. The total duration of sea level occupation (hence wave erosion) depends strongly on rock uplift rate. Certain rock uplift rates may promote the generation and preservation of particular terraces while others prevent it. The elevations and widths of terraces eroded during specific sea level stands may vary widely from site to site and depend on local rock uplift rate. This leads to potential misidentification of terraces if each terrace in a sequence is assumed to form uniquely at successive interglacial high stands and to reflect their elevations. Representing a proxy for the entire erosion potential of sea level history allows us to address creation/preservation biases at different rock uplift rates.



Climate, Geology, Geomorphology


wave erosion, coastal geology, rock uplift


Published: 2021-05-13 13:23

Last Updated: 2021-08-12 12:42

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Comment #47 Luca Claude Malatesta @ 2021-10-02 10:05

The article has now been formatted and is available on the Geology website in open access: