US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Quaternary Research (2017), 88, 409–429.



U.S. government work


Although uranium series (U-series) ages of growth-position fossil corals are important to Quaternary sea-level history, coral clast reworking from storms can yield ages on a terrace dating to more than one high-sea stand, confounding interpretations of sea-level history. On northern Barbados, U-series ages corals from a thick storm deposit are not always younger with successively higher stratigraphic positions, but all date to the last interglacial period (~127 ka to ~112 ka), Marine Isotope Substage (MIS) 5.5. The storm deposit ages are consistent with the ages of growth-position corals found at the base of the section and at landward localities on this terrace. Thus, in this case, analysis of only a few corals would not have led to an error in interpreting sea-level history. In contrast, a notch cut into older Pleistocene limestone below the MIS 5.5 terrace contains corals that date to both MIS 5.5 (~125 ka) and MIS 5.3 (~108 ka). We infer that the notch formed during MIS 5.3 and the MIS 5.5 corals are reworked. Similar multiple ages of corals on terraces have been reported elsewhere on Barbados. Thus, care must be taken in interpreting U-series ages of corals that are reported without consideration of taphonomy.