Postglacial relative sea-level changes in northwest Iceland: Evidence from isolation basins, coastal lowlands and raised shorelines

Martin Brader, Jeremy M. Lloyd, Natasha L.M. Barlow, Hreggvidur Norddahl, Michael J. Bentley, Anthony Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relative sea-level (RSL) data provide constraints on land uplift associated with former ice loading and can be used to differentiate between contrasting ice unloading scenarios. Isolation basin, coastal lowland and geomorphological evidence is employed to reconstruct RSL changes in northwest (NW) Iceland, which may have experienced contrasting uplift patterns. Under local (NW) uplift, highest RSL would be expected in central Vestfirðir, whereas highest RSL would be closest to the main ice-loading centre under regional (central Iceland) uplift. Four new RSL records are presented based on 16 sea-level index points and 4 limiting ages from sites principally focussed along a transect away from central Iceland. The new RSL records highlight spatial variability of Holocene RSL changes and provide constraints on deglaciation. There is an increase in marine limit elevation with proximity to the proposed principal ice loading centre in central Iceland. Highest recorded marine limit shorelines are found in Hrútafjörður-Heggstaðanes (southeast), the lowest in Hlöðuvík and Rekavík bak Látrum (north), and at an intermediate elevation in Reykjanes-Laugardalur (central Vestfirðir). Evidence from Breiðavik-Látrar records early rapid deglaciation in Breiðafjörður or a complex interplay of multiple uplift centres. RSL fell rapidly following deglaciation in several locations as a result of the quick response of the Icelandic lithosphere to unloading. The RSL data along the transect show an uplift pattern consistent with extensive regional glaciation emanating from central Iceland, which could have implications for ice sheet configuration and patterns of deglaciation, glacio-isostatic adjustment modelling and the volume of meltwater input into the North Atlantic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114–130
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date13 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


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