Simultaneous estimation of lithospheric uplift rates and absolute sea level change in southwest Scandinavia from inversion of sea level data

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Relative sea level curves contain coupled information about absolute sea level change and vertical lithospheric movement. Such curves may be constructed based on, for example tide gauge data for the most recent times and different types of geological data for ancient times. Correct account for vertical lithospheric movement is essential for estimation of reliable values of absolute sea level change from relative sea level data and vise versa. For modern times, estimates of vertical lithospheric movement may be constrained by data (e.g. GPS-based measurements), which are independent from the relative sea level data. Similar independent data do not exist for ancient times. The purpose of this study is to test two simple inversion approaches for simultaneous estimation of lithospheric uplift rates and absolute sea level change rates for ancient times in areas where a dense coverage of relative sea level data exists and well-constrained average lithospheric movement values are known from, for example glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) models. The inversion approaches are tested and used for simultaneous estimation of lithospheric uplift rates and absolute sea level change rates in southwest Scandinavia from modern relative sea level data series that cover the period from 1900 to 2000. In both approaches, a priori information is required to solve the inverse problem. A priori information about the average vertical lithospheric movement in the area of interest is critical for the quality of the obtained results. The two tested inversion schemes result in estimated absolute sea level rise of ∼1.2/1.3 mm yr–1 and vertical uplift rates ranging from approximately −1.4/−1.2 mm yr–1 (subsidence) to about 5.0/5.2 mm yr–1 if an a priori value of 1 mm yr–1 is used for the vertical lithospheric movement throughout the study area. In case the studied time interval is broken into two time intervals (before and after 1970), absolute sea level rise values of ∼0.8/1.2 mm yr–1 (before 1970) and ∼2.0 mm yr–1 (after 1970) are found. The uplift patterns resulting from the different inversions suggest that the lithospheric post-GIA response changes near the border between the Danish Basin and the Fennoscandian Shield. The obtained patterns of vertical lithospheric movement rates are comparable to results from other studies based on different and similar data types. Main differences between the inversion results and the results from other studies are caused by factors such as the simplifications included in the inversion approach, such as neglecting local sea level variation caused by the dominant wind patterns, and the a priori values chosen for the vertical uplift rates. The tests of the inversion schemes reveal that realistic values of absolute sea level rise and lithospheric uplift may be simultaneously estimated provided that reliable prior knowledge regarding the overall lithospheric uplift in the study area is available beforehand. In the presented parametrizations, only one absolute sea level change rate value is estimated for each studied time interval while several vertical movement rates are found, and the inverse estimate of absolute sea level change rate is practically insensitive with respect to the choice of a priori value of absolute sea level change, as long as the uncertainty assigned to this a priori value is kept sufficiently high.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)1018-1029
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ID: 127603057