Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Post-glacial sea-level rise from a coral record at Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea


DATING of coral reef terraces can provide a record of changes in sea level, which should be pronounced during the transition between glacial and interglacial periods. Cores drilled from coral reefs at Barbados in the equatorial west Atlantic1have revealed the sea-level changes that occurred during the Younger Dry as event at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (11,000 yr BP). It has not been known, however, whether Pacific coral reefs can grow at a rate sufficient to keep up with the rise in sea level during such a transition. Here we report results obtained from a 52-m drill core from the post-glacial reef at Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea, spanning the interval from 7,000 to 11,000 14C yr BP, which show that coral growth kept pace while the relative sea level rose by 50m. Although the tectonic environment is very different from that at Barbados, the two records compare well when corrections are made for local tectonic uplift, showing that sea-level rise was similar at both locations. The rate of rise was greatest between 9,000 and 10,00014C yr BP, corresponding to the time of the Younger Dryas.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Fairbanks, R. G. Nature 342, 637–642 (1989).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Chappell, J. & Shackleton, N. J. Nature 324, 137–140 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Chappell, J. Bull. geol. Soc. Am. 85, 553–570 (1974).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Currie, L. & Polach, H. A. Radiocarbon 22, 933–935 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Chappell, J. & Polach, H. A. Bull. geol. Soc. Am. 87, 235–240 (1976).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Gillespie, R. & Polach, H. A. Radiocarbon Dating (eds Berger R. & Suess, H. E.) 404–421 (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1979).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Veeh, H. H. & Chappell, J. Science 167, 862–865 (1970).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Stein, M. et al. Quat. Res. (manuscript submitted).

  9. Stuiver, M., Pearson, G. W. & Brazunias, T. Radiocarbon 28(2B), 980–1021 (1986).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Bard, E., Hamelin, B., Fairbanks, R. G. & Zindler, A. Nature 345, 405–410 (1990).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Davies, P. J. & Hopley, D. BMR J. Aust. Geol. Geophys. 8, 237–251 (1983).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chappell, J., Polach, H. Post-glacial sea-level rise from a coral record at Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea. Nature 349, 147–149 (1991).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing