US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



QUATERNARY RESEARCH 31, 267-280 (1992)


U.S. government work


Strontium-isotopic ratios of dated corals have been obtained from submerged reefs formed during Quaternary glacial periods off the Hawaiian islands. These data, combined with data from deep-sea sediments, tightly constrain the secular variation of marine 87Sr/86Sr for the past 800,000 yr. Although long-term trends are apparent, no significant (>0.02‰), rapid (<100,000 yr) excursions in 87Sr/86Sr were resolved nor did we observe any samples with 87Sr/86Sr greater than that of modern seawater. Strontium in mollusks from elevated marine terraces formed during interglacial periods on the southern California coast show resolvable and consistent variations in 87Sr/86Sr which, when compared to the trend of Quaternary marine 87Sr/86Sr, can be used to infer uplift rates and define approximate ages for the higher terraces. The Sr-isotope age estimates indicate that uplift rates vary among crustal blocks and were not necessarily constant with time. No contrast in Sr-isotopic ratios between similar-age Hawaiian and California fossils was observed, confirming that any change in marine 87Sr/86Sr from glacial to interglacial periods must be small. A realistic appraisal of the potential of Sr-isotope stratigraphy for chronometric applications in