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Late Holocene sea-level changes and vertical land movements in New Zealand

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JournalNew Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics
DateAccepted/In press - 24 Apr 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 18 May 2020
Early online date18/05/20
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Coasts in tectonically active regions face varying threat levels as land subsides or uplifts relative to rising sea levels. We review the processes influencing relative sea-level change in New Zealand, and the geological context behind ongoing land movements, focussing on major population centres. Whilst Holocene sea levels have been reconstructed using a variety of techniques, recent work uses salt-marsh microfossil assemblages to reconstruct relative sea-level changes over the past few centuries. For the twentieth century, these proxy-based studies often show enhanced rates of sea-level rise relative to tide-gauge observations. The effects of tectonic subsidence must be considered, alongside vertical and dating uncertainties in the sea-level reconstructions. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) observations for the past few decades show that vertical land movement (VLM) may be influencing rates of relative sea-level rise. However, the short period of GPS observations, during which trends and rates have varied at some localities, raises questions over the longer-term contribution of VLM to sea-level change over the past few centuries and for future projections. We argue that high-resolution palaeo-sea-level reconstructions from salt-marsh sedimentary sequences can help to answer these questions regarding the interplay between sea-level change and VLM at key locations.

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    Research areas

  • climate change, Holocene, New Zealand, palaeoclimate, palaeoenvironment, palaeoseismicity, Sea level, sea-level rise, tectonics, vertical land movement

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