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Deglaciation chronology of the Donegal Ice Centre, north‐west Ireland

Wilson, Peter; Ballantyne, Colin K.; Benetti, Sara; Small, David; Fabel, Derek; Clark, Chris D.

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Peter Wilson

Colin K. Ballantyne

Sara Benetti

Derek Fabel

Chris D. Clark


During the Last Glacial Maximum, Donegal in north‐west Ireland functioned as an independent centre of ice dispersal that separated and fed into the Donegal Bay Ice Lobe (sourced in the Irish Midlands) to the south and the Hebrides/Malin Sea Ice Stream to the north. We report geochronological data that demonstrate marked contrasts in the timing and rate of deglaciation in northern and southern Donegal. In northern Donegal, which occupied an inter‐ice‐stream/lobe location, decoupling from the Hebrides/Malin Sea Ice Stream resulted in formation of a marine embayment along the north coast by ∼22–21 ka, and subsequent slow (∼4 ± 1 m a−1) climatically driven inland retreat of the ice margin to mountain source areas by ∼17 ka. By contrast, in southern Donegal, which lay near the axis of the Donegal Bay Ice Lobe, deglaciation was delayed until ∼18 ka following readvance of ice to a moraine in outer Donegal Bay. The ice margin subsequently underwent net retreat, apparently uninterrupted by readvances, at a net rate of ∼ 18 ± 6 m a−1. A mean terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide age of ∼15.0 ka obtained for samples from the foothills of the Blue Stack Mountains in south‐east Donegal indicates that ice persisted in valley heads and cirques at the beginning of the Lateglacial Interstadial, suggesting that these and nearby mountains supported the last remnants of the Irish Ice Sheet before complete deglaciation of Ireland, and that almost all the shrinkage of the ice sheet in this sector occurred under stadial conditions before the onset of interstadial warming at ∼14.7 ka.


Wilson, P., Ballantyne, C. K., Benetti, S., Small, D., Fabel, D., & Clark, C. D. (2018). Deglaciation chronology of the Donegal Ice Centre, north‐west Ireland. Journal of Quaternary Science, 34(1), 16-28.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 18, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 11, 2018
Publication Date Dec 11, 2018
Deposit Date Jan 7, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 23, 2019
Journal Journal of Quaternary Science
Print ISSN 0267-8179
Electronic ISSN 1099-1417
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 1
Pages 16-28
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Copyright Statement
© 2018 The Authors. Journal of Quaternary Science Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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