, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 309-327

The Holocene sea-level highstand in the equatorial Pacific: analysis of the insular paleosea-level database

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 A review of the literature provides 92 estimates of the middle to late Holocene sea-level highstand on Pacific Islands. These data generally support geophysical model calculations that predict a +1 to 3 m relative sea-level highstand on oceanic islands due to the Earth’s rheological response to the melting of the last continental ice sheets and subsequent redistribution of meltwater. Both predictions and observations indicate sea level was higher than present in the equatorial Pacific between 5000 and 1500 y B.P. A non-linear relationship exists between the age and elevation of the highstand peak, suggesting that different rates of isostatic adjustment may occur in the Pacific, with the highest rates of sea-level fall following the highstand near the equator. It is important to resolve detailed sea-level histories from insular sites to test and refine models of climatic, oceanographic, and geophysical processes including hydroisostasy, equatorial ocean siphoning, and lithospheric flexure that are invoked as mechanisms affecting relative sea-level position. We use a select subset of the available database meeting specific criteria to examine model relationships of paleosea-surface topography. This new evaluated database of paleosea-level positions is also validated for testing and constraining geophysical model predictions of past and present sea-level variations.

Accepted: 22 May 1998