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Seafloor glacial features reveal the extent and decay of the last British Ice Sheet, east of Scotland

By A.G.C. Graham, L. Lonergan and Martyn Stoker


Three-dimensional (3D) seismic datasets, 2D seismic reflection profiles and shallow cores provide insights into the geometry and composition of glacial features on the continental shelf, offshore eastern Scotland (58° N, 1-2° W). The relic features are related to the activity of the last British Ice Sheet (BIS) in the Outer Moray Firth. A landsystem assemblage consisting of four types of subglacial and ice marginal morphology is mapped at the seafloor. The assemblage comprises: (i) large seabed banks (interpreted as end moraines), coeval with the Bosies Bank moraine; (ii) morainic ridges (hummocky, push and end moraine) formed beneath, and at the margins of the ice sheet; (iii) an incised valley (a subglacial meltwater channel), recording meltwater drainage beneath former ice sheets; and (iv) elongate ridges and grooves (subglacial bedforms) overprinted by transverse ridges (grounding line moraines). The bedforms suggest that fast-flowing grounded ice advanced eastward of the previously proposed terminus of the offshore Late Weichselian BIS, increasing the size and extent of the ice sheet beyond traditional limits. Complex moraine formation at the margins of less active ice characterised subsequent retreat, with periodic stillstands and readvances. Observations are consistent with interpretations of a dynamic and oscillating ice margin during BIS deglaciation, and with an extensive ice sheet in the North Sea basin at the Last Glacial Maximum. Final ice margin retreat was rapid, manifested in stagnant ice topography, which aided preservation of the landsystem record

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1002/jqs.1218
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