Evidence from the Seychelles of Last Interglacial Sea Level Oscillations

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Karen Vyverberg1, Andrea Dutton2, Belinda Dechnik3, Jody Webster3 and Dan Zwartz4, (1)University of Florida, Ft Walton Beach, FL, United States, (2)University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States, (3)University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, (4)Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Several studies indicate that sea level oscillated during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5e, but the details of these scenarios, including the number of sea level oscillations, are still debated. We lack a detailed understanding of the sensitivity of the large polar ice sheets to changes in temperature that could result in eustatic sea level oscillations. Because the Seychelles are located far from the margins of the Last Glacial Maximum northern hemisphere ice sheets, they have not been subjected to glacial isostatic adjustment, and have been tectonically stable since the Last Interglacial period; therefore, they provide a robust record of eustatic sea level during MIS 5e. All of the outcrops we examined contain unconformities and/or sharp transitions between facies, though the nature of these boundaries varies between sites. In some outcrops we observed a hardground comprising fine-grained, mollusc-rich sediment layer between distinct generations of in situ coralgal framework. In one outcrop, this succession was observed twice, where two generations of reef growth were each capped by a strongly indurated fine-grained, mollusc-rich sediment layer. At the site with the greatest vertical extent of outcrop, there is a marked difference in the taxonomic composition of the coral community above and below an unconformable surface, but the indurated fine-grained, sediment layer observed elsewhere was absent. Most of the other outcrops we studied contained a common succession of facies from in situ reef units overlain by cemented coral rubble. In two dated outcrops, the age of corals above and below the rubble layer are the same age. The hardgrounds and rubble layers may represent ephemeral exposure of the reef units during two drops in sea level. The inference of multiple meter-scale oscillations during the MIS 5e highstand indicates a more dynamic cryosphere than the present interglacial, although the climatic threshold for more volatile polar ice sheets is not yet clear.