Changes of relative sea level during the past 5000 years in the ancient harbor of Marseilles, Southern France

C. Morhange, J. Laborel, A. Hesnard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the ancient harbor of Marseilles, marine fauna fixed upon archaeological structures as well as bio-sedimentary units document a 1.5 m steady rise in relative sea level during the past 5000 years, followed by a near stable level at present datum from about 1500 years AD to the last century. This trend is similar to the one previously documented along the rocky coasts of the same region. Field observations inside and outside the harbor confirm that no sea level stand higher than the present ever occurred during the studied period in contradiction with the numerical model of Peltier but in agreement with the glacio-hydro-isostatic models of Lambeck and Johnston and Lambeck and Bard.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-329
Number of pages11
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2001
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was performed during archaeological excavations in Marseilles. Funds for the excavations were provided in part by the City of Marseilles and also by a complementary fund from CNRS and the University of Aix-Marseilles. This research is a contribution to IGCP 437 (Coastal environmental change during sea level highstands, C.V. Murray-Wallace dir.). We thank E. Bard, P.A. Pirazzoli and A Veron for helpful suggestions and D. Bourles, M. Frajut and A.S. Murray for the English revision of this text. The authors would like to thank P. De Deckker, K. Lambeck and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments of the manuscript.


  • Geo-archaeology
  • Holocene
  • Mediterranean
  • Models
  • Palaeo-shorelines
  • Sea level indicators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Paleontology


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