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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Livingstone, S.J., Ó Cofaigh, C. & Evans, D.J.A. A major ice drainage pathway of the last British–Irish Ice Sheet: the Tyne Gap, northern England. Journal of Quaternary Science. 2010;25:354-370.

Author(s) from Durham


The Tyne Gap is a wide pass, situated between the Scottish Southern Uplands and the English Pennines that connects western and eastern England. It was a major ice flow drainage pathway of the last British–Irish Ice Sheet. This study presents new glacial geomorphological and sedimentological
data from the Tyne Gap region that has allowed detailed reconstructions of palaeo-ice flow dynamics during the Late Devensian (Marine Isotope Stage 2). Mapped lineations reveal a complex
palimpsest pattern which shows that ice flow was subject to multiple switches in direction. These are summarised into three major ice flow phases. Stage I was characterised by convergent Lake District and Scottish ice that flowed east through the Tyne Gap, as a topographically controlled ice stream. This ice stream was identified from glacial geomorphological evidence in the form of convergent bedforms,
streamlined subglacial bedforms and evidence for deformable bed conditions; stage II involved northerly migration of the Solway Firth ice divide back into the Southern Uplands, causing the
easterly flow of ice to be weakened, and resulting in southeasterly flow of ice down the North Tyne Valley; and stage III was characterised by strong drawdown of ice into the Irish Sea Ice Basin, thus starving the Tyne Gap of ice and causing progressive ice sheet retreat westwards back across the
watershed, prior to ice stagnation.

Department of Geography