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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Bateman, Mark D., Evans, David J. A., Roberts, David H., Medialdea, Alicia, Ely, Jeremy & Clark, Chris D. The timing and consequences of the blockage of the Humber Gap by the last British−Irish Ice Sheet. Boreas. 2018;47:41-61.

Author(s) from Durham


The eastern England terrestrial glacial sequences are critical to the spatial and temporal reconstruction of the last British−Irish Ice sheet (BIIS). Understanding glacial behaviour in the area of the Humber Gap is key as its blockage by ice created extensive proglacial lakes. This paper maps the glacial geomorphology of the Humber Gap region to establish for the first time the extent and thickness of the North Sea Lobe (NSL) of the BIIS. Findings establish the westerly maximal limit of the NSL. Ten new luminescence ages from across the region show the initial Skipsea Till advance to the maximal limits occurred regionally at c. 21.6 ka (Stage 1) and retreated off-shore c. 18 ka (Stage 2). Punctuated retreat is evident in the south of the region whilst to the immediate north retreat was initially rapid before a series of near synchronous ice advances (including the Withernsea Till advance) occurred at c. 16.8 ka (Stage 3). Full withdrawal of BIIS ice occurred prior to c. 15 ka (Stage 4). Geomorphic mapping and stratigraphy confirms the existence of a proto Lake Humber prior to Stage 1, which persisted to Stage 3 expanding eastward as the NSL ice retreated. It appears that proglacial lakes formed wherever the NSL encountered low topography and reverse gradients during both phases of both advance and retreat. These lakes may in part help explain the dynamism of parts of the NSL, as they initiated ice draw down and associated streaming/surging. The above record of ice-dammed lakes provides an analogue for now off-shore parts of the BIIS where it advanced as a number of asynchronous lowland lobes.

Department of Geography