Reconstructing late holocene sea-level changes in the Forth Valley, Scotland (UK)

  • Anne-Marie McLaughlin

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


    The research contributes to the understanding of late Holocene environmental changes in the Forth Valley.Scotland has been greatly affected by differential glacio-isostatic uplift after the demise of the late British-Irish ice sheet. This has been one of the main causes for fluctuations in sea-levels during the Holocene as recorded previously from the Forth lowland. Previous studies have attempted to determine late Holocene sea-level changes in the Forth lowland on the basis of archaeological evidence (e.g. Smith et al 2010). However, little is known about these changes in the Forth Valley.

    A high resolution study using stratigraphical and diatom analysis has been completed from a sediment core near the upper tidal limit of the Forth valley. A radiocarbon date of 2761±45 BP (2862±94 cal. BP) was established in the lower peat layer. Evidence of peat moss clearance and other anthropogenic activity is present throughout the core. Furthermore, an indication of relative sea-level rise was found subsequent to the radiocarbon date. However, further work needs to be completed further downstream and collaborated with the findings in this study to be sure of this brief and minor transgressional phase. The environment remained predominantly riverine with a slight marine to marine-brackish influence.

    In addition to the possible change in relative sea-level, the results have been indicative of a dynamic riverine system. The stratigraphical evidence suggests multiple changes in the river course as organic material has accumulated in certain sections of the core. The diatom assemblage indicates the formation of a wetland prior to the river Forth migrating back. During the progression of terrestrialisation, marine to marine-brackish diatoms were present but low in abundance.

    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorJason Jordan (Supervisor) & Adrian Wood (Supervisor)


    • Scotland
    • Late Holocene
    • Diatoms
    • Stratigraphy
    • sea-level

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