A series of submerged coral reefs off northwestern Hawaii was formed during (largely glacial) intervals when the rate of local sea-level rise was less than the maximum upward growth rate of the reefs. Mass-spectrometric 234U/238U ages for samples from six such reefs range from 17 to 475 ka and indicate that this part of the Hawaiian Ridge has been subsiding at a roughly uniform rate of 2.6 mm/yr for the past 475 ka. The 234U/238U ages are in general agreement with model ages of reef drowning (based on estimates of paleo-sea-level stands derived from oxygen-isotope ratios of deep-sea sediments), but there are disagreements in detail. The high attainable precision (±10 ka or better on samples younger than ∼800 ka), large applicable age range, relative robustness against open-system behavior, and ease of analysis for this technique hold great promise for future applications of dating of 50-1000 ka coral.

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