Dynamic Devensian ice flow in NE England: a sedimentological reconstruction

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Abstract

This study reconstructs the depositional environments that accompanied both ice advance and ice retreat of the last British–Irish Ice Sheet in NE England during the Last Glacial Maximum, and proposes three regional ice-flow phases. The Late Devensian (29–22 cal. ka BP) Tyne Gap Ice Stream initially deposited the Blackhall Till Formation during shelf-edge glaciation (Phase I). This subglacial traction till comprises several related facies, including stratified and laminated diamictons, tectonites, and sand and gravel beds deposited both in subglacial canals and in proglacial streams. Eventually, stagnation of the Tyne Gap Ice Stream led to ice-marginal sedimentation in County Durham (Phase II). During the Dimlington Stadial (21 cal. ka BP), the North Sea Lobe advanced towards the coastline of N Norfolk. This resulted initially in sandur deposition (widespread, tabular sand and gravel; the Peterlee Sand and Gravel Formation; Phase II) and ultimately in deposition of the Horden Till Formation (Phase III), a massive subglacial till. As the North Sea Lobe overrode previous formations, it thrusted and stacked sediments in County Durham, and dammed proglacial lakes between the east-coast ice, the Pennine uplands and the remaining Pennine ice. The North Sea Lobe retreated after Heinrich Event 1 (16 ka). This study highlights the complexity of ice flow during the Late Devensian glaciation of NE England, with changing environmental and oceanic conditions forcing a mobile and sensitive ice sheet.

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