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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Ó Cofaigh, C. & Evans, D.J.A. Radiocarbon constraints on the age of the maximum advance of the British-Irish Ice Sheet in the Celtic Sea. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2007;26:1197-1203.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Reconstructions of the British–Irish Ice Sheet (BIIS) during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in the Celtic Sea and southern Ireland have been hampered by a paucity of well-dated stratigraphic records. As a result, the timing of the last advance of the largest outlet of the BIIS, the Irish Sea Ice Stream, to its maximum limit in the Celtic Sea has been variously proposed as being pre-last glaciation, Early Devensian and LGM. The Irish Sea Till was deposited by the Irish Sea Ice Stream during its last advance into the Celtic Sea. We present 26, stratigraphically well constrained, new AMS radiocarbon dates on glacially transported marine shells from the Irish Sea Till in southern Ireland, which constrain the maximum age of this advance. The youngest of these dates indicate that the BIIS advanced to its overall maximum limit in the Celtic Sea after 26,000–20,000 14C yr BP, thus during the last glaciation. The most extensive phase of BIIS growth therefore appears to have occurred during the LGM, at least along the Celtic Sea and Irish margins. These data further demonstrate that the uppermost inland glacial tills, from the area of supposed “older drift” in southern Ireland, a region previously regarded as having been unglaciated during the LGM also date from the last glaciation. Thus most of southern Ireland was ice covered at the LGM. Advance of the BIIS to its maximum southern limit in the Celtic Sea may have been a short-lived glaciodynamic response facilitated by subglacial bed conditions, rather than a steady-state response to climate forcing alone.

Department of Geography