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Keywords:

  • Lateglacial transition;
  • cosmogenic isotope dating;
  • ice-marginal region;
  • glacial dynamics;
  • Wester Ross

Abstract

Cosmogenic 10Be surface exposure ages for bedrock sites around Torridon and the Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross, northwest Scotland, provide new insights into the Lateglacial transition. Accounting for postglacial weathering, six statistically comparable exposure ages give a late Younger Dryas (G-1) exposure age of 11.8 ± 1.1 ka. Two further outliers are tentative pre-Younger Dryas exposure ages of 13.4 ± 0.5 ka in Torridon, and 17.5 ± 1.2 ka in Applecross. The Younger Dryas exposure ages have compelling implications for the deglaciation of marginal Loch Lomond Stadial ice fields in Torridon and Applecross. Firstly, they conflict with predictions of restricted ice cover and rapid retreat based on modelling experiments and climate proxies, instead fitting a model of vertically extensive and prolonged ice coverage in Wester Ross. Secondly, they indicate that >2 m of erosion took place in the upper valleys of Torridon and Applecross during the Younger Dryas, implying a dominantly warm-based glacial regime. Finally, the exposure ages have clarified that corrie (cirque) glaciers did not readvance in Wester Ross, following final deglaciation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.