Since the end of the last glaciation, the United Kingdom’s land surface has been altered by isostatic rebound, rising in the north and sinking in the south. Numerous studies have been published documenting the impact of isostatic rebound on relative sea levels. However, due to the difficulties in acquiring evidence to prove former sea levels, locally, these data can be sparse or absent. In this work, we explored the suitability of the passive seismic survey (PSS) method to estimate the contemporaneous beach thickness in coastal environments where there is a high impedance contrast between the beach deposits and the underlying wave-cut platform. We conducted a three-day survey at Perran Beach, Cornwall, collected 149 measurements using PSS, and interpreted the observations supported by auxiliary topographical, geological, and independent geophysical observation in the study area. The study site is a contemporaneous beach mostly composed of sand underlain by a wave-cut platform composed of igneous and sedimentary rock, therefore high impedance contrast with the sandy beach is anticipated. The elevation of the bedrock relative to the topographical elevation suggests that the bedrock elevation is −15 m ± 5 m below the present day mean sea level, which is coherent with the observation of relative sea level rise along the region of the south-west. The present study contributes to our current limited understanding of land and sea level movements by providing further subsurface information to the coastal geological archive of south-west England, a region currently in need of more data to reconstruct land- and sea-level movements.



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Journal of Marine Science and Engineering





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School of Biological and Marine Sciences