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Modeling sea level rise and shoreline change in a complex sedimentary environment: Case study from Chesapeake Bay

Author(s): Leslie Reeder-Myers

Year: 2015

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Accurate estimates of past shoreline locations are important for archaeologist interested in the complex relationships between sea level rise and human ecology. However, shoreline reconstructions require careful consideration of highly variable eustatic, isostatic, tectonic, and sedimentary processes. In the Chesapeake Bay, records from marsh cores have produced high resolution models of relative sea level rise since the Bay first emerged between 8000-7000 BP, influenced by both global sea level rise and local subsidence. Shoreline reconstructions within Chesapeake Bay, however, are complicated by significant and highly variable sediment deposition during the Colonial, Historic, and Modern periods, which has obscured the original bathymetry. This study explores different methods for measuring and compensating for that sedimentation to model shoreline change across the entire Bay. Results suggest that even the relatively slow sea level rise during the Late Holocene produced shifts in shoreline locations that would have affected estuarine ecosystems and the people who depended on them. Modeling, in this case, is an important starting point, but variability in sedimentation rates requires more localized studies to produce accurate reconstructions to contextualize archaeological studies.

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Modeling sea level rise and shoreline change in a complex sedimentary environment: Case study from Chesapeake Bay. Leslie Reeder-Myers. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398178)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -84.067; min lat: 36.031 ; max long: -72.026; max lat: 43.325 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America