Abstract

Rapid and abrupt relative sea-level changes within the last interglacial (substage 5e) are recorded in the island geology of the tectonically stable Bahamas. From 132 to 118 ka, reef growth reached a maximum elevation near +2 m, as indicated by fossil reef elevation across the platform, whereas bioeroded notches are incised in coastal cliffs as high as +6 m. The end of the interval is characterized by voluminous eolianites exhibiting palm tree and frond impressions. It is inferred that sea level for most of the interval remained near +2 m, restraining reef growth, and that the notch at +6 m represents a rapid and brief excursion just before the close of the substage. The subsequent fall must have been rapid in order to leave the notch profile intact and mobilize windward lagoon ooids into dunes before cementation could anchor them. In order to explain the rapid rise to +6 m, glacial surging is invoked. The subsequent fall, also rapid, may be a consequence of the surge flooding high latitudes and providing enough moisture to initiate reglaciation and drawdown.

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