Holocene coastal change at Luce Bay, South West Scotland

David Smith, Richard Tipping, Jason Jordan, Matthew Blackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Coastal change during the Mid- to Late Holocene at Luce Bay, South West Scotland, is examined using morphological, stratigraphic and biostratigraphical techniques supported by radiocarbon dating. Deglaciation left extensive sediments, providing a source for depositional coastal landforms. Glacio-isostatic uplift resulted in the registration of evidence for former relative sea levels (RSLs), which support the pattern of Holocene RSL change for the northern Irish Sea as determined by shoreline-based Gaussian trend surface models. The rate of RSL rise was rapid from before ca. 8600 to ca. 7800 cal a bp, but then slowed, changing by <3 m over the next 3000 years, a pattern reflected in the convergence of shorelines predicted in the models. By ca. 4400 cal a bp RSL was falling towards present levels. As these changes were taking place, coastal barriers developed and dunes formed across them. In the West of the Bay, a lagoon forming to landward of the barriers and dunes acted as a sediment sink for dune sand. Changes in the coastal landscape influenced the occupation of the area by early human societies. This study illustrates the value of combining an understanding of process geomorphology, RSL and archaeology in studies of coastal change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-759
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number6
Early online date29 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Holocene
  • archaeology
  • coastal change
  • microfossils
  • radiocarbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology


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