10Be and 26Al exposure-age dating of bedrock surfaces on the Aran ridge, Wales: evidence for a thick Welsh Ice Cap at the Last Glacial Maximum

Authors

  • Neil F. Glasser,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Glaciology, Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth SY23 3DB, Wales, UK
    • Centre for Glaciology, Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth SY23 3DB, Wales, UK.
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  • Philip D. Hughes,

    1. Quaternary Environments and Geoarchaeology Research Group, Geography, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
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  • Cassandra Fenton,

    1. Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam – Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum, Potsdam, Germany
    2. NERC Cosmogenic Isotope Analysis Facility, SUERC, Scottish Enterprise Technology Park, East Kilbride 975 0QF, Scotland, UK
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  • Christoph Schnabel,

    1. NERC Cosmogenic Isotope Analysis Facility, SUERC, Scottish Enterprise Technology Park, East Kilbride 975 0QF, Scotland, UK
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  • Henrik Rother

    1. AMS Laboratory, SUERC, Scottish Enterprise Technology Park, East Kilbride 975 0QF, Scotland, UK
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Abstract

This paper presents results of the analysis of paired cosmogenic isotopes (10Be and 26Al) from eight quartz-rich samples collected from ice-moulded bedrock on the Aran ridge, the highest land in the British Isles south of Snowdon. On the Aran ridge, comprising the summits of Aran Fawddwy (905 m a.s.l.) and Aran Benllyn (885 m a.s.l.), 26Al and 10Be ages indicate complete ice coverage and glacial erosion at the global Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Six samples from the summit ridge above 750–800 m a.s.l. yielded paired 10Be and 26Al ages ranging from 17.2 to 34.4 ka, respectively. Four of these samples are very close in age (10Be ages of 17.5 ± 0.6, 17.5 ± 0.7, 19.7 ± 0.8 and 20.0 ± 0.7 ka) and are interpreted as representing the exposure age of the summit ridge. Two other summit samples are much older (10Be ages of 27.5 ± 1.0 and 33.9 ± 1.2 ka) and these results may indicate nuclide inheritance. The 26Al/10Be ratios for all samples are indistinguishable within one-sigma uncertainty from the production rate ratio line, indicating that there is no evidence for a complex exposure history. These results indicate that the last Welsh Ice Cap was thick enough to completely cover the Aran ridge and achieve glacial erosion at the LGM. However, between c. 20 and 17 ka ridge summits were exposed as nunataks at a time when glacial erosion at lower elevations (below 750–800 m a.s.l.) was achieved by large outlet glaciers in the valleys surrounding the mountains. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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