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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Evans, D.J.A., Livingstone, S.J., Vieli, A. & Ó Cofaigh, C. The palaeoglaciology of the central sector of the British and Irish Ice Sheet: reconciling glacial geomorphology and preliminary ice sheet modelling. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2009;28:739-757.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Digital elevation models of the area around the Solway Lowlands reveal complex subglacial bedform imprints relating the central sector of the LGM British and Irish Ice Sheet. Drumlin and lineation mapping in four case studies show that glacier flow directions switched significantly through time. These are summarised in four major flow phases in the region: Phase I flow was from a dominant Scottish dispersal centre, which transported Criffel granite erratics to the Eden Valley and forced Lake District ice eastwards over the Pennines at Stainmore; Phase II involved easterly flow of Lake District and Scottish ice through the Tyne Gap and Stainmore Gap with an ice divide located over the Solway Firth; Phase III was a dominant westerly flow from upland dispersal centres into the Solway lowlands and along the Solway
Firth due to draw down of ice into the Irish Sea basin; Phase IV was characterised by unconstrained
advance of Scottish ice across the Solway Firth. Forcing of a numerical model of ice sheet inception and
decay by the Greenland ice core record facilitates an assessment of the potential for rapid ice flow directional switching during one glacial cycle. The model indicates that, after fluctuations of smaller
radially flowing ice caps prior to 30 ka BP, the ice sheet grows to produce an elongate, triangular-shaped dome over NW England and SW Scotland at the LGM at 19.5 ka BP. Recession after 18.5 ka BP displays a complex pattern of significant ice flow directional switches over relatively short timescales, complementing the geomorphologically-based assessments of palaeo-ice dynamics. The palaeoglaciological implications of this combined geomorphic and modelling approach are that: (a) the central sector of the BIIS was as a major dispersal centre for only ca 2.5 ka after the LGM; (b) the ice sheet had no real steady state and comprised constantly migrating dispersal centres and ice divides; (c) subglacial streamlining of flow sets was completed over short phases of fast flow activity, with some flow reversals taking place in less than 300 years.

Department of Geography