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The Pacific Coast Isn't Experiencing as Much Uplift as we Thought

Aug 27, 2015 04:16 PM EDT

While the worst is always assumed of climate change, impacts of plate tectonics were dramatized along the Pacific Coast. New data provided by the Geological Society of America shows that uplift rates along this area of the United States and northern Mexico have been overestimated by more than 14 percent. This means that shorelines are rising at a slower rate than we thought, according to a release.

This adjustment could also affect how quickly sea-level change affects the Pacific Coast, the researchers noted in the release. More study on that topic is yet to be done, however, they said.

"Factors other than tectonics contribute to local sea-level change, and one important, yet often overlooked, contribution is the earth-ocean response to the changing distribution of surface loads of ice and water, often referred to as... glacial isostatic adjustment," Alexander Simms and colleagues said in their paper. "Neglect of this effect, particularly along coastal sections at variable distances from the former ice sheets, such as the eastern Pacific coast from northern Mexico to the U.S.-Canada border, introduces large errors in uplift estimates."

This study provides important information for understanding the potential impact of sea-level rise to coastlines across the Pacific Coast, as well as for earthquake mitigation and coastal management.

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