Impact assessment of current and future sea-level change on coastal archaeological resources – illustrated examples from Northern Newfoundland

K Westley, T Bell, MAP Renouf, L Tarasov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Coastal archaeological heritage is potentially vulnerable to increased erosion resulting from predicted future sea-level rise and increased storminess. As all sites cannot be protected, it is essential that heritage managers know which sites and landscapes are most at risk so they can prioritize resources and decision-making most effectively. One method of doing so is through desk-based modeling of coastal vulnerability. This article outlines the advantages and limitations of such an approach and demonstrates the application of a desk-based model to case studies from Newfoundland’s coast. The rate of future sea-level rise around Newfoundland is complicated by its glacio-isostatic recovery since the last ice age. The first step therefore in this assessment is to combine output from glacio-isostatic adjustment models with appropriate rates of global eustatic sea-level rise. Next, these data are integrated with existing information on coastal characteristics (topography, surficial geology, erosion rates) to assess coastal sensitivity to sea-level rise. Finally, overlay of known archaeological sites identifies those locations at greatest risk from destructive coastal changes. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of such models for regional-scale analyses but caution against the use of low resolution data to generate site-specific predictions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-374
JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2011


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