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Rising seas flood a river valley and create San Francisco Bay
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Rising seas flood a river valley and create San Francisco Bay

Author: Tanya Atwater

About ten thousand years ago, melting glaciers and warming water caused sea levels to rise and flood the river valleys of the California lowlands. About 8500 years ago, rising tides pushed through the Golden Gate and formed San Francisco Bay.

This animation was produced by Professor Tanya Atwater at the University of California-Santa Barbara. It is based on data provided by Ken LaJoie (U.S.G.S., ret.), an authority on the geological history of San Francisco Bay. The rate of sea level rise is based on the International Sea Level curve as established by Bard and others 1996. Bathymetry is based on U.S.G.S. and NOAA data.

Sources:

Atwater, Tanya. 2008. Bay Area Sea Level Change: SF Bay formation. http://emvc.geol.ucsb.edu/animations/quicktime/SFBayFlood.mov

Bard, E., Hamelin, B., Arnold, M., Montaggioni, L., Cabioch, G., Faure, G. and Rougerie, F., 1996. Deglacial sea-level record from Tahiti corals and the timing of global meltwater discharge. Nature, 382, 241-244.

Spatial History