Marine terraces are a cornerstone for the study of paleo sea level and crustal deformation. Commonly, individual erosive marine terraces are attributed to unique sea-level high stands based on the reasoning that marine platforms could only be significantly widened at the beginning of an interglacial. However, this logic implies that wave erosion is insignificant at other times. We postulate that the erosion potential at a given bedrock elevation datum is proportional to the total duration of sea-level occupation at that datum. The total duration of sea-level occupation depends strongly on rock uplift rate. Certain rock uplift rates may promote the generation and preservation of particular terraces while others prevent them. For example, at rock uplift of ~1.2 mm/yr, the Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5e (ca. 120 ka) high stand reoccupies the elevation of the MIS 6d–e mid-stand, favoring creation of a wider terrace than at higher or lower rock uplift rates. Thus, misidentification of terraces can occur if each terrace in a sequence is assumed to form uniquely at successive interglacial high stands and to reflect their relative elevations. Developing a graphical proxy for the entire erosion potential of sea-level history allows us to address creation and preservation biases at different rock uplift rates.

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