Guest geological note by David Middleton
Most skeptics are familiar with the Warmunist efforts to erase the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age.
However, many skeptics may not be aware of efforts to erase another paleoclimatological feature: The Holocene Highstand.
What is a highstand?
A highstand is one phase of the sea level cycle (AAPG Wiki)
The highstand is the maximum sea level achieved during the cycle.
The Holocene Epoch
The Holocene Epoch was recently formally subdivided into three stages:
- Greenlandian Stage = Lower or Early-Holocene. 11.70 ka to 8.33 ka
- Northgrippian Stage = Middle or Mid-Holocene. 8.33 ka to 4.25 ka
- Meghalayan Stage = Upper or Late-Holocene. 4.25 ka to present
The abbreviation “ka” refers to thousands of years ago. Lower, Middle and Upper are generally used when referring to rock-time units. Early, Mid and Late are generally used when referring to time units (Haile, 1987). Prior to the formal subdivision, Lower/Early, Middle/Mid and Upper/Late were commonly used; however there was no formal nomenclature. The fake word, “Anthropocene” is not used by real geologists.
There is also an informal climatological subdivision of the Holocene:
- Preboreal 10 ka–9
- Boreal 9 ka–8 ka
- Atlantic 8 ka–5 ka
- Subboreal 5 ka–2.5 ka
- Subatlantic 2.5 ka–present
Why would there have been a Mid- to Late-Holocene highstand?
The so-called consensus would like for people to believe that sea level had been relatively static throughout most of the Holocene, only beginning to rise after Col. Drake drilled the first American oil well in Titusville PA. Being a geologist, and having gone to college in the 1970’s, I was taught that Holocene sea levels fluctuated and were generally higher than present day during the Mid- to Late-Holocene.
Evidence of these higher sea levels is now “explained away” as ocean siphoning. While ocean siphoning is a real phenomenon and the Mid- to Late-Holocene Highstand was not globally synchronous, there’s a lot of geological evidence to support it and two very logical reasons for it to have happened:
- The Mid-Holocene was much warmer than today and the Little Ice Age featured the coldest climate of the Holocene Epoch.
- The Mid-Holocene was host to the epoch’s glacial minimum, the glacial maximum occurred near the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-1800’s. The glacial expansion period is known as Neoglaciation.
Warmer and less ice 6,000 to 3,000 years ago, coldest temperatures and maximum ice extent 500 to 150 years ago, suggests that the Mid- to Late-Holocene sea level should have been higher than that of the Little Ice Age.
Most of the geological evidence suggests that sea levels should have been at their highest 6,000 to 3,000 years ago and should have been falling from 3,000 to about 150 years ago… with or without ExxonMobil.
The sea level reconstruction of Jevrejeva et al., 2014 (J14) indicates that sea level was falling in the early 1800’s.
Geological evidence for a Mid- to Late-Holocene highstand
I’m going to let the graphics largely speak for themselves. On each graph I have noted which direction is older, added in the J14 reconstruction at the same scale and highlighted 3,000 years ago with a red arrow.
Qatar/Arabian Sea: 1-2 meters higher than today from 7,500 to 3,000 years ago…
Eastern Australia: 1-2 meters higher than today from 7,000 to 2,000 years ago…
Malaysia: 1-5 meters higher than today from 7,000 to 1,000 years ago…
Great Barrier Reef: >1 meter higher than today 6,000 years ago… And the reef didn’t drown.
Japan: As much as 10 meters higher than today 7,000 years ago and steadily falling until 1800’s.
Southwest South Africa: 3 meters higher than today 6,500 years ago.
Oahu, Hawaii: “2.00 ± 0.35” meters higher than today 3,500 years ago.
The modern rise in sea level is barely noticeable against the backdrop of Holocene sea level oscillations.
Siddall et al., 2003 (linked) is a reconstruction of global sea level over the past 470,000 years constructed from Red Sea sediment cores.
Here we analyse oxygen isotope records from Red Sea sediment cores to reconstruct the history of water residence times in the Red Sea. We then use a hydraulic model of the water exchange between the Red Sea and the world ocean to derive the sill depth— and hence global sea level over the past 470,000 years (470 kyr). Our reconstruction is accurate to within ±12 m, and gives a centennial-scale resolution from 70 to 25 kyr before present.Siddall et al., 2003
Brock et al., 2008 featured the Holocene portion of Siddall’s reconstruction, clearly demonstrating that sea level was significantly higher than today for most of the past 3,000 years.
Sea level reconstructions are terribly imprecise. Oxygen isotope chronologies can have error bars as large as 30 meters (Siddall et al., 2003). Dating error bars are also generally fairly large. Fossil terraced beaches provide some of the best evidence for past higher sea levels, but they aren’t particularly easy to put into an Excel spreadsheet. Uplift and subsidence of the land can have a large impact on local sea level changes. Woodroffe & Horton, 2005 (linked) provide an excellent summary of the methods and challenges in reconstructing paleo-sea level changes.
Evidence for the Mid- to Late-Holocene highstand(s) is not present everywhere. Evidence is lacking on the Mississippi delta (Törnqvist et al, 2004). While it may not have been universal or synchronous, there does appear to be strong evidence that Holocene sea levels were significantly higher than today over much of the world and that past natural oscillations were of much higher magnitude than observed sea level changes over the past ~200 years.
Pierre Gosselin’s “No Tricks Zone” has a nice compendium of papers documenting past higher Holocene sea levels.
The following papers or abstracts were reviewed for the preparation of this post. I have requested full texts from many of the authors and received two, thanks to James Innes and Brian Jones. As I dig deeper into this, I may try to compose a more comprehensive post on Holocene sea level changes.
Brock, J.C., M. Palaseanu-Lovejoy, C.W. Wright, & A. Nayegandhi. (2008). “Patch-reef morphology as a proxy for Holocene sea-level variability, Northern Florida Keys, USA”. Coral Reefs. 27. 555-568. 10.1007/s00338-008-0370-y.
Collins, Lindsay, Jian-xin Zhao & Heather Freeman. (2006). “A high-precision record of mid-late Holocene sea-level events from emergent coral pavements in the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, southwest Australia”. Quaternary International. 145. 78-85. 10.1016/j.quaint.2005.07.006.
Compton, John. (2001). “Holocene sea-level fluctuations inferred from the evolution of depositional environments of the southern Langebaan Lagoon salt marsh, South Africa”. The Holocene. 114. 395-405. 10.1191/095968301678302832.
Correggiari, Annamaria,Fabio Trincardi, Leonardo Langone & Marco Roveri. (2001). “Styles of Failure in Late Holocene Highstand Prodelta Wedges on the Adriatic Shelf”. Journal of Sedimentary Research. 71. 218-236. 10.1306/042800710218.
Fletcher, Charles & A.T.Jones,. (1996). “Sea-level Highstand Recorded in Holocene Shoreline Deposits on Oahu, Hawaii”. Journal of Sedimentary Research. 66. 632-641. 10.1306/D42683CE-2B26-11D7-8648000102C1865D. Abstract only.
Gayes, Paul, DAVID B. SCOTT, ERIC S. COLLINS & DOUGLAS D. NELSON. (1992). “A late Holocene sea-level fluctuation in South Carolina”. Quaternary coasts of the United States. 155-160. 10.2110/pec.92.48.0155. Abstract only.
Gonzalez, Juan & Torbjörn Törnqvist. (2009). “A new Late Holocene sea-level record from the Mississippi Delta: evidence for a climate/sea level connection?”. Quaternary Science Reviews. 28. 1737-1749. 10.1016/j.quascirev.2009.04.003.
Grosjean, Martin, Suter, Peter, Trachsel, Mathias & Wanner, Heinz. (2007). “Ice‐borne prehistoric finds in the Swiss Alps reflect Holocene glacier fluctuations”. Journal of Quaternary Science. 22. 203 – 207. 10.1002/jqs.1111.
Grossman, Eric, Fletcher, Charles & Richmond, Bruce. (1998). “The Holocene sea-level highstand in the equatorial Pacific: Analysis of the insular paleosea-level database”. Coral Reefs. 17. 309-327. 10.1007/s003380050132.
Grossman, Eric & Charles Fletcher. (1998). “Sea level higher than present 3500 years ago on the northern main Hawaiian Islands”. Geology. 26. 10.1130/0091-7613(1998)026<0363:SLHTPY>2.3.CO;2.
Haile, N.S. “Time and age in geology: The use of upper/lower, late/early in stratigraphic nomenclature”. Marine and Petroleum Geology. Volume 4, Issue 3. 1987. Pages 255-257. ISSN 0264-8172, https://doi.org/10.1016/0264-8172(87)90048-1 (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0264817287900481)
Jameson, J., C. Strohmenger. “Late Pleistocene to Holocene Sea-Level History of Qatar: Implications for Eustasy and Tectonics”. AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90142 © 2012 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, April 22-25, 2012, Long Beach, California.
Jevrejeva, S. , J.C. Moore, A. Grinsted, A.P. Matthews, G. Spada. 2014. “Trends and acceleration in global and regional sea levels since 1807”. Global and Planetary Change. %vol 113, 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2013.12.004 https://www.psmsl.org/products/reconstructions/jevrejevaetal2014.php
Khan, Nicole, Erica Ashe, Benjamin P. Horton, Andrea Dutton, Robert E. Kopp, Gilles Brocard, Simon E. Engelhart, David F. Hill, W.R. Peltier, Christopher H. Vane, & Fred N. Scatena. (2016). “Drivers of Holocene sea-level change in the Caribbean”. Quaternary Science Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.08.032
Kench, Paul, Scott Smithers, Roger Mclean & Scott Nichol. (2009). “Holocene reef growth in the Maldives: Evidence of a mid-Holocene sea-level highstand in the central Indian Ocean”. Geology. 37. 455-458. 10.1130/G25590A.1.
Kermode, S, Gibling, Martin, Jones, Brian, Cohen, T., Price, David & Daley, James. (2013). “Determining the impact of the Holocene highstand at the coastal‐fluvial interface, Shoalhaven River, south‐eastern Australia”. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 38. 10.1002/esp.3382. Abstract only.
Lee, Stephen, Matthew Currell & Dioni Cendón. (2015). “Marine water from mid-Holocene sea level highstand trapped in a coastal aquifer: Evidence from groundwater isotopes, and environmental significance”. The Science of the total environment. 544. 995-1007. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.12.014.
Leonard, N.D., Welsh, K.J., Clark, T.R., Feng, Y.Y., Pandolfi, J.M., & Zhao, J. (2018). “New evidence for “far-field” Holocene sea level oscillations and links to global climate records”. Earth and Planetary Science Letters Volume 487, 1 April 2018, Pages 67-73
Lessa, Guilherme & Masselink, Gerhard. (2006). “Evidence of a Mid-Holocene Sea Level Highstand from the Sedimentary Record of a Macrotidal Barrier and Paleoestuary System in Northwestern Australia”. Journal of Coastal Research. 22. 10.2112/05A-0009.1.
Lobo, Francisco José & Luis Fernández Salas, F Hernández-Molina, R González, Joao Dias, V Díaz-del-Río & Luis Somoza. (2005). “Holocene highstand deposits in the Gulf of Cadiz, SW Iberian Peninsula: A high-resolution record of hierarchical environmental changes”. Marine Geology. 219. 109-131. 10.1016/j.margeo.2005.06.005.
Long, Antony J., Natasha Barlow, Sue Dawson, Jon Hill, James Innes, Catherine Kelham, Fraser Milne & Alastair Dawson. (2016). “Lateglacial and Holocene relative sea-level changes and first evidence for the Storegga tsunami in Sutherland, Scotland: SEA LEVEL CHANGES IN NORTHERN SCOTLAND”. Journal of Quaternary Science. 31. 239-255. 10.1002/jqs.2862.
Mann, Thomas, Rovere, Alessio, Schöne, Tilo, Klicpera, André, Stocchi, Paolo, Lukman, Muhammad & Westphal, Hildegard. (2015). “The magnitude of a mid-Holocene sea-level highstand in the Strait of Makassar”. Geomorphology. 257. 10.1016/j.geomorph.2015.12.023. Abstract only.
May, Andy. “A Holocene Temperature Reconstruction Part 4: The Global Reconstruction.” Watts Up With That?, 9 June 2017, wattsupwiththat.com/2017/06/09/a-holocene-temperature-reconstruction-part-4-the-global-reconstruction/.
Moore, David G. & Joseph R. Curray, 1974. “Midplate Continental Margin Geosynclines: Growth Processes and Quaternary Modifications”, Modern and Ancient Geosynclinal Sedimentation, R. H. Dott, Jr., Robert H. Shaver
Rice, Johnathan Aaron & Alexander Simms. The Holocene History and Facies Architecture of the Nueces Bayhead Delta of the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico. (2015). UC Santa Barbara, Masters Thesis. https://cloudfront.escholarship.org/dist/prd/content/qt31k339wf/qt31k339wf.pdf
Sarti, G., Rossi, V., Amorosi, A., Bini, M., Giacomelli, S., Pappalardo, M., … Sammartino, I. (2015). “Climatic signature of two mid–late Holocene fluvial incisions formed under sea-level highstand conditions (Pisa coastal plain, NW Tuscany, Italy)”. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 424, 183–195. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.PALAEO.2015.02.020
“Sea Level Cycle Phase and Systems Tracts.” Sea Level Cycle Phase and Systems Tracts – AAPG Wiki, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, wiki.aapg.org/Sea_level_cycle_phase_and_systems_tracts.
Siddall M, Rohling EJ, Almogi-Labin A, Hemleben C, Meischner D, Scmelzer I, Smeed DA (2003). “Sea-level fluctuations during the last glacial cycle”. Nature 423:853–858 LINK
Simms, Alexander, Niranjan Aryal, Yusuke Yokoyama Hiroyuki Matsuzaki & Dewitt, Regina. (2009). “Insights on a Proposed Mid-Holocene Highstand Along the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico from the Evolution of Small Coastal Ponds”. Journal of Sedimentary Research – J SEDIMENT RES. 79. 757-772. 10.2110/jsr.2009.079. Abstract only.
Strachan, Kate, Jemma Finch, Trevor Hill & Robert Barnett. (2014). “A late Holocene sea-level curve for the east coast of South Africa”. South African Journal of Science. 110. 1-9. 10.1590/sajs.2014/20130198.
“TAR Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis.” IPCC, 2001, www.ipcc.ch/report/ar3/wg1/.
Törnqvist, Torbjörn, Juan Gonzalez, Lee Newsom, Klaas van der Borg, Arie F. M. de Jong & Charles W. Kurnik. (2004). “Deciphering Holocene sea-level history on the U.S. Gulf Coast: A high-resolution record from the Mississippi Delta”. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 116. 1026-1039. 10.1130/B2525478.1.
Umitsu, Masatomo. (1991). “Holocene Sea-Level Changes and Coastal Evolution in Japan”. The Quaternary Research (daiyonki-kenkyu). 30. 187-196. 10.4116/jaqua.30.187.
Woodroffe, S & Benjamin Horton. (2005). “Holocene sea-level changes in the Indo-Pacific”. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences. 25. 29-43. 10.1016/j.jseaes.2004.01.009. LINK
Zong, Yongqiang. (2004). “Mid-Holocene sea-level highstand along the Southeast Coast of China”. Quaternary International. Elsevier. Abstract only.