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New Zealand

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Southeast USA

Evidence of tilting of the U.S. coast

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South Africa

Accurate sea level markers

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Roe Plains, Australia

The team’s first expedition

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Virginia

Researchers take advantage of a celestial collision

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New Zealand

Uplift exposes a repository of Pliocene sediments

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Enewetak

Researchers study crater of hydrogen bomb test

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The Rangitikei river valley in New Zealand, where uplift has exposed Pliocene-era marine sediments. Photo: James Dignan

The Wagnanui Basin on New Zealand’s North Island was once a shallow marine basin. For millions of years, including the period before and during the Pliocene, sediments gradually accumulated. Then the basin uplifted, exposing the sediments, creating the world’s most complete accessible record of Pliocene geology. A team of geologists from New Zealand's University of Wellington have dated and measured the elevation of Pliocene era sediments. Using the technique called backstripping, they’ve calculated the amount of land uplift since the sediments were formed. These calculations suggest a Pliocene sea level 15-20 meters (49-66 feet) above present.