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Reconstructing flowpaths of the Middle Pleistocene British Ice Sheet in central-eastern England : the application of regional soil geochemical data

By Andreas J. Scheib, Jonathan R. Lee, Neil Breward and James B. Riding

Abstract

High-density regional geochemical data for surface soils in central England and East Anglia reveal that much of their geochemical character is inherited from the tills that they are developed upon. Multivariate statistical analysis highlighted three significant element associations of Al-Fe-Ga-K-La-Mg-Rb, Ca-Sr and K-Fe accounting for almost 93% of the geochemical variability of soils derived from tills. Provenancing the geochemical signatures of the latter elements enabled the construction of ice flow paths associated with two different Middle Pleistocene ‘chalky’ till sheets. A lower till sheet relating to ‘Pennine’ ice flowing from west to east across the region, and an upper till sheet deposited by North Sea ice moving into northern East Anglia, and to the west of the Fen Basin, before fanning-out across central England. Overall, geochemical signatures of different till units are largely derived from local bedrock sources, with dilution and a new geochemical signature acquired as the ice flows over and incorporates new bedrock lithologies. The results show that high resolution soil geochemical data provides a further proxy with which the flow paths of former ice sheets can be delineated

Topics: Glaciology, Earth Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2011.01.008
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:14030

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