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Science. 2002 Jan 11;295(5553):310-3.

Direct determination of the timing of sea level change during termination II.

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Department of Geological Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN 55812, USA.

Erratum in

  • Science 2002 Feb 8;295(5557):974.


An outcrop within the last interglacial terrace on Barbados contains corals that grew during the penultimate deglaciation, or Termination II. We used combined 230Th and 231Pa dating to determine that they grew 135.8 +/- 0.8 thousand years ago, indicating that sea level was 18 +/- 3 meters below present sea level at the time. This suggests that sea level had risen to within 20% of its peak last-interglacial value by 136 thousand years ago, in conflict with Milankovitch theory predictions. Orbital forcing may have played a role in the deglaciation, as may have isostatic adjustments due to large ice sheets. Other corals in the same outcrop grew during oxygen isotope (delta18O) substage 6e, indicating that sea level was 38 +/- 5 meters below present sea level, about 168.0 thousand years ago. When compared to the delta18O signal in the benthic V19-30/V19-28 record at that time, the coral data extend to the previous glacial cycle the conclusion that deep-water temperatures were colder during glacial periods.

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