Recognition of non-Milankovitch sea-level highstands at 185 and 343 thousand years ago from U-Th dating of Bahamas sediment

Gideon M. Henderson, Laura F. Robinson, Katharine Cox, Alex L. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Thirty-one new bulk-sediment U-Th dates are presented, together with an improved delta O-18 stratigraphy, for ODP Site 1008A on the slopes of the Bahamas Banks. These ages supplement and extend those from previous studies and provide constraints on the timing of sea-level highstands associated with marine isotope stages (MIS) 7 and 9. Ages are screened for reliability based on their initial U and Th isotope ratios, and on the aragonite fraction of the sediment. Twelve 'reliable' dates for MIS 7 suggest that its start is concordant with that predicted if climate is forced by northern-hemisphere summer insolation following the theory of Milankovitch. But U Th and 6180 data indicate the presence of an additional highstand which post-dates the expected end of MIS 7 by up to 10 ka. This event is also seen in coral reconstructions of sea-level. It suggests that sea-level is not responding in any simple way to northern-hemisphere summer insolation, and that tuned chronologies which make such an assumption are in error by approximate to 10 ka at this time. U-Th dates for MIS 9 also suggest a potential mismatch between the actual timing of sea-level and that predicted by simple mid-latitude northern-hemisphere forcing. Four dates are earlier than that predicted for the start of MIS 9. Although the most extreme of these dates may not be reliable (based on the low-aragonite content of the sediment) the other three appear robust and suggest that full MIS 9 interglacial conditions were established at 343 ka. This is approximate to 8 ka prior to the date expected if this warm period were driven by northern-hemisphere summer insolation. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3346-3358
Number of pages13
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number23-24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006

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