What is it about?
The Red Sea becomes more isolated when sea level is lower, because of the narrow and shallow sill separating it from the Indian Ocean. During global sea level lowerings in glacial periods, this leads to extreme salinity and consequential deposition of aragonite, which cements the sediment, forming 'hard' layers. We have detected these with a form of ultra-high resolution seismic profiler ("Chirp") and the results suggest how our knowledge of the global sea level curve may be extended beyond 500,000 years ago.
Photo by Ivan Ragozin on Unsplash
Why is it important?
Our interpretation suggests that the Chirp reflection sequence extends to sediment of age beyond Marine Isotope Stage 16. The amplitudes of reflections (allowing for attenuation) suggests that the sea level low stand at MIS16 was probably similarly (depth) to MIS12. Our model also broadly supports one global sea level model of Rohling and others which has an extended low stand at MIS12.
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This page is a summary of: Red Sea isolation history suggested by Plio-Pleistocene seismic reflection sequences, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, November 2015, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.08.037.
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