RATES of submergence of the northeastern seaboard of the US during the past several thousand years as determined from studies of coastal marsh deposits show considerable variation. The marshes became established on submerging shorelines and have grown upwards and landwards with the continued relative rise in sea level, thereby often forming thick deposits of peat. A series of radiocarbon dates taken at various levels in the marsh can be used to reconstruct the history of submergence. This letter presents a study of the relative change in sea level in southern Long Island, New York, over the past 8,000 yr, and shows that the changing rates of submergence have been an important factor in the initiation and continued development of the area's saltmarshes.
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