Scientists Challenge Conventional Sea Level Theory
ABC News, December 3, 1999
Australian scientists say they have discovered evidence of rapid change in world sea levels and of a dramatic fall in geologically recent times - directly challenging current conventional wisdom. Dr Robert Baker of the University of New England, in the New South Wales country town of Armidale, has tapped the secrets of worm coatings on once-submerged rocks to shake established theory that sea levels are presently as high as they have ever been. Based on height measurements of worm coatings on rocks now well above sea level, and carbon dating tests which show them to be as recent as 3,500 years old, Baker argues that sea levels have not been steady since the last ice age, as is commonly believed.
Instead, he told Australia's ABC television, it changed rapidly 3,000-5,000 years ago. "It means that the whole natural system is unstable, it's been unstable for 130,000 years." Baker and his colleagues at New England University say the sea level may have fallen quickly 3,500 years ago, by as much as a meter in just 10-50 years. This means that the current rise in the sea level - normally associated with environmental warming caused by the so-called greenhouse effect - might not be that unusual, Baker said.
He also said that his evidence pointed to the controversial conclusion that sea levels had once been higher than they are now. "The conventional wisdom has been that sea levels haven't been higher. (Contrary) evidence was something that they weren't prepared to accept," he said. Baker's theories, which he first aired 20 years ago, were initially rejected, but are now about to receive a wider audience with their publication in the respected journal Marine Biology. The implications go further than greenhouse and global warming. Baker said big movements in sea levels could explain the migration of Australian Aboriginies and give clues about the fate of ancient civilizations such as inEgypt.