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ABSTRACT

Late Pleistocene morainic sequences around Dundalk Bay, eastern Ireland, were deposited in a variety of shallow, glaciomarine environments at the margins of a grounded ice lobe. The deposits are essentially ice-proximal delta-fan and -apron sequences and are divided into two lithofacies associations. Lithofacies association 1 occurs as a series of morainal banks formed at the southern margin of the ice lobe in a body of water open to influences from the Irish Sea. The morainal banks consist mainly of diamictic muds deposited from turbid plumes and by ice-rafting with minor occurrences of turbidites, cross-bedded gravels (subaqueous outwash) and massive boulder gravels (high-density debris flows). Lithofacies association 2 was deposited in a narrow arm of the sea at the north-eastern margin of the ice lobe. The deposits consist mainly of a series of coalescing, ice-proximal Gilbert-type fan deltas which are interbedded distally with tabular and lens-shaped subaqueous deposits. The latter are mainly ice-rafted diamictons, debris-flow deposits and subaqueous sands and gravels. Both lithofacies associations are draped by diamictons formed by a combination of rain-out, debris flow and traction-current activity. At a few localities the upper parts of the sequence have been sheared by minor oscillations of the ice sheet margin.

These sequences form part of an extensive belt of glaciomarine deposits which border the drumlin swarms of east-central Ireland. Lithostratigraphic variability is partially related to the arrival of large volumes of debris at the ice lobe margin when the main lowland ice sheet surged during drumlin formation. Complex depositional continua of this type lack any major erosional breaks and should not be used either as climatic proxies or for stratigraphic correlations.