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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Bridgland, D.R., Preece, R.C., Roe, H.M., Tipping, R.M., Coope, G.R., Field, M.H., Robinson, J.E., Schreve, D.C. & Crowe, K. Middle Pleistocene interglacial deposits at Barling, Essex, England: evidence for a longer chronology for the Thames terrace sequence. Journal of Quaternary Science. 2001;16:813-840.

Author(s) from Durham


Results are presented from a multidisciplinary study of
fossiliferous interglacial deposits on the northern side of the Thames
estuary. These fill a channel cut into London Clay bedrock and overlain by
the Barling Gravel, a Thames-Medway deposit equivalent to the Lynch Hill
and Corbets Tey Gravels of the Middle and Lower Thames, respectively. The
channel sediments yielded diverse molluscan and ostracod assemblages, both
implying fully interglacial conditions and a slight brackish influence.
Pollen analysis has shown that the deposits accumulated during the early
part of an interglacial. Plant macrofossils, particularly the abundance of
Trapa natans, reinforce the interglacial character of the palaeontological
evidence. A beetle fauna, which includes four taxa unknown in Britain at
present, has allowed quantification of palaeotemperature using the mutual
climatic range method (Tmax 17 to 26 °C; Tmin -11 to 13 °C). A few
vertebrate remains have been recovered from the interglacial deposits, but
a much larger fauna, as well as Palaeolithic artefacts, is known from the
overlying Barling Gravel.
The age of the interglacial deposits is inferential. The geological
context suggests a late Middle Pleistocene interglacial, part of the
post-diversion Thames system and therefore clearly post-Anglian. This
conclusion is supported by amino acid ratios from the shells of freshwater
molluscs. The correlation of the overlying Barling Gravel with the Lynch
Hill/Corbets Tey aggradation of the Thames valley constrains the age of
the Barling interglacial to marine oxygen isotope stages 11 or 9. The
presence of Corbicula fluminalis and Pisidium clessini confirms a
pre-Ipswichian (marine oxygen isotope substage 5e) age and their
occurrence in the early part of the interglacial cycle at Barling
precludes correlation with marine oxygen isotope stage 11, as these taxa
occur only later in that interglacial at sites such as Swanscombe and
Clacton. Thus by process of elimination a marine oxygen isotope stage 9
age would appear probable.


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Department of Geography