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Holocene analysis

Method indicator
Bottom-Up Hybrid Top-Down

Summary of key issues:

Issue Description
Description Analysis of the transgression and progression of an estuary over long time scales; reflecting the rate of sea level change; uplift, subsidence or consolidation of the landmass; and the available sediment supply.
Temporal applicability Geological timescales: many centuries to millennia.
Spatial applicability Whole estuary
Links with other tools
  • Accommodation space / geological analysis
  • Expert Geomorphological Analysis
  • Historical analysis
Data sources
  • Borehole records and cores
  • Seismic reflection surveys
  • Particle size, heavy mineral and geochemical analysis (Ridgway et al., 2000)
  • Radiocarbon dating of the sediments (Godwin & Willis, 1961; Stuiver & Reimer, 1993)
  • Pollen analysis (Godwin, 1940; Moore et al., 1991)
  • Foraminifera analysis (MacFadyen, 1933; Scott & Medioli, 1980)
  • Geoarchaeological investigations (Mellalieu et al., 2000)
Necessary software tools / skills Dependent on the techniques and data sources applied.
Typical analyses To establish a relative sea level rise curve for an estuary, through the reconstruction of geological and stratigraphic sequences, and assigning dates to particular horizons.
Limitations Data availability
Example applications Humber Holocene Chronology

For most estuaries the change in sea level since the last ice age has had a major influence on their evolution. As sea levels rise, former river valleys are progressively drowned to become estuaries. This basal surface defines the space within which the estuary is formed. The subsequent development of the estuary then reflects the rate of sea level change, any uplift, subsidence or consolidation of the landmass, and the available sediment supply. Because of the way these various parameters interact it is common for an estuary to exhibit periods of transgression, when the estuary moves landward, and progression, when it moves seaward, over the time scale of centuries to millennia. Trying to identify these changes provides a context for the present form of an estuary and can often indicate the bounds within which future evolution is most likely to take place.

Read the full PDF document for more information on this methodPDF version

Analysis and modelling

Last Modified on: 19 June 2011
Printed from the Estuary Guide on 18/06/2019 03:40:41