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Late Glacial to Holocene relative sea-level change in Assynt, northwest Scotland, UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Christine A Hamilton
  • Jeremy Lloyd
  • Natasha L M Barlow
  • James B Innes
  • Rachel Flecker
  • Caleb P Thomas
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-222
Number of pages9
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number2
Early online date29 Jul 2015
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jul 2015
DatePublished (current) - Sep 2015


Relative sea-level change (RSL), from the Late Glacial through to the late Holocene, is reconstructed for the Assynt region, northwest Scotland, based on bio- and lithostratigraphical analysis. Four new radiocarbon-dated sea-level index points help constrain RSL change for the Late Glacial to the late Holocene. These new data, in addition to published material, capture the RSL fall during the Late Glacial and the rise and fall associated with the mid- Holocene highstand. Two of these index points constrain the Late Glacial RSL history in Assynt for the first time, reconstructing RSL falling from 2.47 ± 0.59 m OD to 0.15 ± 0.59 m OD at c. 14,000–15,000 cal yr BP. These new data test model predictions of glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA), particularly during the early deglacial Period which is currently poorly constrained throughout the British Isles. Whilst the empirical data from the mid to late-Holocene to present matches quite well with the recent GIA model output, there is a relatively poor fit between the timing of the Late Glacial RSL fall and early Holocene RSL rise. This mismatch, also evident elsewhere in northwest Scotland, may result from uncertainties associated with both the global and local ice components of GIA models.

    Research areas

  • Sea level, Late Glacial, glacial isostatic adjustment, palaeoenvironmental reconstruction

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    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND


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