We investigated the utility of foraminifera, testate amoebae and bulk-sediment δ13C measurements for reconstructing Holocene relative sea level from sequences of salt-marsh sediment in Newfoundland, Canada. Modern, surface sediment was collected along transects from low to supra-tidal elevations in eastern (at Placentia) and western (at Hynes Brook and Big River) Newfoundland. Consistent with previous work, low-diversity assemblages of foraminifera display an almost binary division into a higher salt-marsh assemblage dominated by Jadammina macrescens and Balticammina pseudomacrescens and a lower salt-marsh assemblage comprised of Miliammina fusca. This pattern and composition resembles those identified at other high latitude sites with cool climates and confirms that foraminifera are sea-level indicators. The lowest occurrence of testate amoebae was at approximately mean higher high water. The composition of high salt-marsh testate amoebae assemblages (Centropyxis cassis type, Trinema spp., Tracheleuglypha dentata type, and Euglypha spp.) in Newfoundland was similar to elsewhere in the North Atlantic, but preservation bias favors removal of species with idiosomic tests over those with xenosomic tests. The mixed high salt-marsh plant community in Newfoundland results in bulk surface-sediment δ13C values that are typical of C3 plants, making them indistinguishable from freshwater sediment. Therefore we propose that the utility of this proxy for reconstructing RSL in eastern North America is restricted to the coastline between Chesapeake Bay and southern Nova Scotia. Using a simple, multi-proxy approach to establish that samples in three radiocarbon-dated sediment cores formed between the lowest occurrence of testate amoebae and the highest occurrence of foraminifera, we generated three example late Holocene sea-level index points at Hynes Brook.
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