The application of local and regional transfer functions to the reconstruction of Holocene sea levels, north Norfolk, England

Benjamin P. Horton, Robin J. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Foraminiferal assemblages from Thornham and Brancaster marshes (Norfolk, UK) illustrate statistically significant relationship with elevation with respect to the tidal frame. We develop local (data from Thornham and Brancaster marshes) and regional (data from Thornham and Brancaster marshes combined with those from 11 other sites around the UK) predictive foraminifera-based transfer functions to reconstruct former sea levels from a Holocene sediment sequence from Holkham, north Norfolk, UK. The two transfer functions produce similar patterns of tidal elevation change during the Holocene. The vertical error ranges of the local transfer function are smaller than those of the regional transfer function, although the difference (0.09 m) is not significant when compared to other factors affecting the reconstructed elevation. The value of the reconstructed elevations also differ between the two transfer functions (by up to 0.43 m), and this is primarily due to the lack of modern analogues in the local transfer function. We conclude that the reconstructions derived from the regional transfer function are more reliable than those of the local transfer function, since the latter achieves its slight increase in precision at the expense of a significant decrease in predictive power. The regional transfer function is used to construct a relative sea-level curve from fossil assemblages within a sediment core from north Norfolk, UK. These results are consistent with existing sea-level data and geophysical model predictions, and illustrate the utility of the foraminifera-based transfer function approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-228
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


  • Foraminifera
  • Holocene
  • North Norfolk
  • Sea-level change
  • Tidal marsh
  • Transfer function


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