GEOMORPHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF LATE QUATERNARY PARAGLACIAL ROCK-SLOPE FAILURES ON SKIDDAW GROUP TERRAIN, LAKE DISTRICT, NORTHWEST ENGLAND

Authors

  • PETER WILSON,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK
      Peter Wilson, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster at Coleraine, Cromore Road, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland, UK E-Mail: P.Wilson@ulster.ac.uk
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  • ALAN SMITH

    Corresponding author
    1. Rigg Side, Grange Park, Keswick, Cumbria, UK
      Alan Smith, Rigg Side, Grange Park, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4AY, UK
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Peter Wilson, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster at Coleraine, Cromore Road, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland, UK E-Mail: P.Wilson@ulster.ac.uk

Alan Smith, Rigg Side, Grange Park, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4AY, UK

Abstract

ABSTRACT. Eight relict rock-slope failures (RSFs) on Skiddaw Group terrain in the Lake District, northwest England, are described. Five of the failures are rockslides, one is a product of slope deformation, and two are compound features with evidence for sliding and deformation in different sectors. As none appears to have been overrun and modified by glacier ice it is concluded that they all post-date the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; c. 21 ± 3 cal. ka bp). Slope stress readjustments resulting from glacial and deglacial influences are considered to have weakened the slopes, and application of the term paraglacial is appropriate. Permafrost aggradation and degradation, seismic activity and fluvial erosion are among processes that may have contributed to failure at certain sites. The failures are significant as potential debris sources during future ice advances, contributing to valley widening and cirque enlargement and, possibly, for acting as sites of cirque initiation. Previously, Skiddaw Group rocks have been regarded as homogeneous and of limited resistance to the weathering and erosion associated with Quaternary glacial, periglacial and fluvial processes. These characteristics and processes have been used to explain the steep smooth slopes and rounded hills that dominate Skiddaw Group terrain. Rock-slope failure has also helped shape this terrain and should be incorporated in future interpretations of landscape development.

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