Departmental Research Projects
Publication detailsDove, D., Evans, D.J.A., Lee, J.R., Roberts, D.H., Tappin, D.R., Mellett, C.L., Long, D. & Callard, S.L. Phased occupation and retreat of the last British-Irish Ice Sheet in the southern North Sea: geomorphic and seismostratigraphic evidence of a dynamic ice lobe. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2017;163:114-134.
- Publication type: Journal Article
- ISSN/ISBN: 0277-3791 (print)
- DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.03.006
- Further publication details on publisher web site
- Durham Research Online (DRO) - may include full text
Author(s) from Durham
Along the terrestrial margin of the southern North Sea, previous studies of the MIS 2 glaciation impacting eastern Britain have played a significant role in the development of principles relating to ice sheet dynamics (e.g. deformable beds), and the practice of reconstructing the style, timing, and spatial configuration of palaeo-ice sheets. These detailed terrestrially-based findings have however relied on observations made from only the outer edges of the former ice mass, as the North Sea Lobe (NSL) of the British-Irish Ice Sheet (BIIS) occupied an area that is now almost entirely submarine (c.21–15 ka). Compounded by the fact that marine-acquired data have been primarily of insufficient quality and density, the configuration and behaviour of the last BIIS in the southern North Sea remains surprisingly poorly constrained.
This paper presents analysis of a new, integrated set of extensive seabed geomorphological and seismo-stratigraphic observations that both advances the principles developed previously onshore (e.g. multiple advance and retreat cycles), and provides a more detailed and accurate reconstruction of the BIIS at its southern-most extent in the North Sea. A new bathymetry compilation of the region reveals a series of broad sedimentary wedges and associated moraines that represent several terminal positions of the NSL. These former still-stand ice margins (1–4) are also found to relate to newly-identified architectural patterns (shallow stacked sedimentary wedges) in the region's seismic stratigraphy (previously mapped singularly as the Bolders Bank Formation). With ground-truthing constraint provided by sediment cores, these wedges are interpreted as sub-marginal till wedges, formed by complex subglacial accretionary processes that resulted in till thickening towards the former ice-sheet margins. The newly sub-divided shallow seismic stratigraphy (at least five units) also provides an indication of the relative event chronology of the NSL. While there is a general record of south-to-north retreat, seismic data also indicate episodes of ice-sheet re-advance suggestive of an oscillating margin (e.g. MIS 2 maximum not related to first incursion of ice into region). Demonstrating further landform interdependence, geographically-grouped sets of tunnel valleys are shown to be genetically related to these individual ice margins, providing clear insight into how meltwater drainage was organised at the evolving termini of this dynamic ice lobe. The newly reconstructed offshore ice margins are found to be well correlated with previously observed terrestrial limits in Lincolnshire and E. Yorkshire (Holderness) (e.g. MIS 2 maximum and Withernsea Till). This reconstruction will hopefully provide a useful framework for studies targeting the climatic, mass-balance, and external glaciological factors (i.e. Fennoscandian Ice Sheet) that influenced late-stage advance and deglaciation, important for accurately characterising both modern and palaeo-ice sheets.