EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Inverting marine terrace morphology to constrain paleo sea-level

Gino de Gelder1,2,3, Navid Hedjazian2, Anne-Morwenn Pastier4, Laurent Husson1, and Thomas Bodin2
Gino de Gelder et al.
  • 1ISTerre, Université Grenoble-Alpes, France (
  • 2ENS Lyon, Lyon, France
  • 3Research Centre for Geotechonology, BRIN, Bandung, Indonesia
  • 4GFZ, Potsdam, Germany

Quantifying paleo sea-level changes is an important challenge given its intricate relation with paleo-climate, -ice-sheets and geodynamics, but pre-Holocene uncertainties currently span several tens of meters. The world’s coastlines provide an enormous geomorphologic dataset, and recent modelling studies have showed their potential in constraining paleo sea-level through forward landscape evolution modeling. We take a next step, by applying a Bayesian approach to invert the geometry of marine terrace sequences to paleo sea-level. Using a Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling method, we test our model on synthetic profiles and two observed marine terrace sequences. The synthetic profiles – with known input parameters – show that there are optimal values for uplift rate, erosion rate, initial slope and wave base depth to obtain a well-constrained inversion. Both the inversion of synthetic profiles and a terrace profile from Santa Cruz (Ca, US) show how sea-level peaks are easier to constrain than sea-level troughs, but that also solutions for peaks tend to be non-unique. Synthetic profiles and profiles from the Corinth Rift (Greece) both show how inverting multiple profiles from a sequence can lead to a narrower range of possible paleo sea-level, especially for sea-level troughs. This last result emphasizes the potential of inverting coastal morphology: joint inversion of globally distributed marine terrace profiles may eventually reveal not only local relative sea-level histories, but catalyse a better understanding of both global paleo sea-level and glacio-isostatic adjustments.

How to cite: de Gelder, G., Hedjazian, N., Pastier, A.-M., Husson, L., and Bodin, T.: Inverting marine terrace morphology to constrain paleo sea-level, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2605,, 2022.


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