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In July of 2016, a team from the Climate and Land Use Research and Development Program took a trip to South Carolina to study outcrops of the “Canepatch” and “Socastee” formations along the Intra-Coastal Waterway, near Myrtle Beach. The age of these fossiliferous marine units has been controversial for several decades. To re-assess the ages of these formations, fossil coral specimens were collected for Uranium-Thorium radiometric dating. Through establishing the ages of sediment deposits like these that were deposited during past warm periods sea level was higher than today, we can better understand sea level variability while constraining estimates for how rising sea levels will affect the U.S. in the future.
Some of the sample corals collected from the base of the Canepatch Formation. These corals grew on scallop and oyster shells during the period of sea-level rise when the Canepatch formation was deposited.