We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Reconstructing ice dynamics in the central sector of the last British-Irish Ice Sheet

LIVINGSTONE, STEPHEN,JOHN (2010) Reconstructing ice dynamics in the central sector of the last British-Irish Ice Sheet. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The central sector (NW England and Scottish borders) of the last British-Irish Ice Sheet exhibits a palimpsest glacial geological and geomorphological signature characteristic of multi-phase ice flow and ice-marginal fluctuations. Despite its influential position at the heart of the British-Irish Ice Sheet, sourced from major ice dispersal centres of the northern Pennines, Lake District and Southern Uplands, and drained via fast-flowing outlets such as the Irish Sea Ice Stream, the region remains poorly constrained, both temporally and in terms of ice-flow dynamics. The principle goal of this thesis was therefore to reconstruct the palaeoglaciology of the central sector of the British-Irish Ice Sheet during the last glacial cycle, focusing on: (1) ice-flow dynamics with respect to palaeo-ice divides, ice-dispersal centres, flow trajectories and flow phasing; (2) the relative chronology of ice flows during advance and decay of the ice sheet; and (3) evidence for ice stream activity either within or sourced from the study area.
The thesis adopted a dual approach involving both geomorphological mapping and sedimentological analysis. A 5 m resolution NEXTMap DEM was used to map over 9,000 individual landforms including subglacial lineations, hummocky terrain, moraines, meltwater channels, eskers and glaciofluvial sediment accumulations. Subglacial lineations were subdivided into discrete flow sets demarcating distinctive flow phases, and a relative chronology produced from cross-cutting relationships. Thirteen field sites, concentrated in the Solway Lowlands, supported by data collected from over 200 boreholes enabled detailed stratigraphic and sedimentological analysis to be carried out. This included stratigraphic logging, the collection of macrofabrics, particle size and geochemistry analysis on till matrixes, clast lithological counts, varve analysis and microstructural (thin sections) data.
Results from this study have demonstrated that the central sector of the ice sheet was characterised by repeated ice-flow switches, initiation and termination of ice streams, drawdown into ice streams, repeated ice-marginal fluctuations (the Scottish and Blackhall Wood Re-advances) and the production of large volumes of meltwater, often impounded to form ice-dammed lakes. Six main stages of ice flow have been recognised in the region, of which stage I is thought to indicate the period of maximum ice expansion, while stages II-VI record the deglacial history. A pre-stage I event is also discussed and can be reconciled with the initial expansion of ice out of upland dispersal centres. Stage I was characterised by ice flowing eastwards across the country through major topographic lows of the Stainmore and Tyne gaps. The Tyne Gap was occupied by a topographic ice stream, which was heavily influenced by the changing dominances of both Lake District and Southern Upland ice-dispersal centres. Migration of ice divides back towards upland dispersal centres during stage II resulted in the flow of ice through the Stainmore Gap being cut-off, while the northern edge of the Tyne Gap ice stream was breached by a SE ice flow down the N Tyne Valley. Despite the maintenance of the Irish Sea Ice Stream off the western coast of Cumbria throughout stage III, the Tyne Gap and Solway Lowlands underwent widespread deglaciation. Meltwater from the Tyne Gap was routed into Glacial-Lake Wear via a major proglacial drainage network in the South Tyne Valley, while the natural basin of the Solway Lowlands also ponded-up (Glacial-Lake Blackhall Wood) as drainage became impeded by the Irish Sea Ice Stream. The overall pattern of retreat was reversed during the Blackhall Wood Re-advance (stage IV), during which ice was vigorously drawn down into the Irish Sea Ice Stream. Stage V was characterised by the continued retreat of ice out of the central sector of the British-Irish Ice Sheet; with the vast amounts of meltwater generated impounded in ice-marginal lake systems (Glacial-Lake Carlisle), or routed through meltwater channel networks or evolving glacier karst (Brampton kame belt). The landforms of the Brampton kame belt can be reconciled with ice stagnation on the reverse slope of the Tyne Gap, and is thought to have formed one component of a much larger, time-transgressive drainage network involving the Pennine escarpment and Tyne Gap meltwater channel systems. The final recognised stage in the glacial history of the region was the Scottish Re-advance, a brief incursion of ice, sourced from the Southern Uplands, onto the fringe of the Solway Lowlands. A large glacial lake is identified to have formed at the ice front, dammed against ice in the Irish Sea basin and delimited by a large deltaic complex at Holme St. Cuthbert.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:British-Irish Ice Sheet; ice sheet dynamics; sedimentology; geomorphological mapping
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Apr 2010 12:19

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter