The last interglacial sea-level record of Aotearoa New Zealand

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Earth System Science Data


This paper presents the current state of knowledge of the Aotearoa New Zealand last interglacial (marine isotope stage 5, MIS 5, sensu lato) sea-level record compiled within the framework of the World Atlas of Last Interglacial Shorelines (WALIS) database. A total of 77 relative sea-level (RSL) indicators (direct, marine-limiting, and terrestrial-limiting points), commonly in association with marine terraces, were identified from over 120 studies reviewed. Extensive coastal deformation around New Zealand has prompted research focused on active tectonics, the scale of which overprints the sea-level record in most regions. The ranges of last interglacial palaeo-shoreline elevations are significant on both the North Island (276.8ĝ€¯±ĝ€¯10.0 to -94.2ĝ€¯±ĝ€¯10.6ĝ€¯ma.m.s.l., above mean sea level) and South Island (165.8ĝ€¯±ĝ€¯2.0 to -70.0ĝ€¯±ĝ€¯10.3ĝ€¯ma.m.s.l.) and have been used to estimate rates of vertical land movement; however, in many instances there is a lack of adequate description and age constraint for high-quality RSL indicators. Identified RSL indicators are correlated with MIS 5, MIS 5e, MIS 5c, and MIS 5a and indicate the potential for the New Zealand sea-level record to inform sea-level fluctuation and climatic change within MIS 5. The Northland Region of the North Island and southeastern South Island, historically considered stable, have the potential to provide a regional sea-level curve, minimally impacted by glacio- and hydro-isostatic adjustment (GIA) and reflecting near-eustatic fluctuations in a remote location of the South Pacific, across broad degrees of latitude; however, additional records from these regions are needed. Future work requires modern analogue information, heights above a defined sea-level datum, better stratigraphic descriptions, and use of improved geochronological methods. The database presented in this study is available open access at this link: (Ryan et al., 2020a).

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H2020 European Research Council



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