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Depositional evidence for marginal oscillations of the Irish Sea ice stream in southeast Ireland during the last glaciation

Evans, D.J.A.; Ó Cofaigh, C.



Late Devensian/Midlandian glacial deposits on the southeast Irish coast contain a record of sedimentation at the margins of the Irish Sea ice stream (ISIS). Exposures through the Screen Hills reveal a stratigraphy that documents the initial onshore flow of the ISIS ('Irish Sea Till') followed by ice stream recession and readvances that constructed glacitectonic ridges. Ice-contact fans (Screen Member) were deposited in association with subglacial deformation tills and supraglacial/subaqueous mass flow diamicts. In SE Ireland, the ISIS moved onshore over proglacial lake sediments which were intensely folded, thrust and cannibalized producing a glacitectonite over which laminated and massive diamictons were deposited as glacitectonic slices. Ice marginal recession and oscillations are documented by: (a) ice-proximal, subaqueous diamict-rich facies; (b) isolated ice-contact glacilacustrine deltas; (c) syn-depositional glacitectonic disturbance of glacilacustrine sediments and overthrusting of ice-contact outwash; (d) offshore moraine ridges; and (e) changing ice flow directions and facies transitions. Diagnostic criteria for the identification of dynamic, possibly surging, ice-stream margins onshore include thrust-block moraines, tectonized pitted outwash and stacked sequences of glacitectonites, deformation tills and intervening stratified deposits. In addition, the widespread occurrence of hydrofracture fills in sediments overridden and locally reworked by the ISIS indicate that groundwater pressures were considerably elevated during glacier advance. The glacigenic sediments and landforms located around the terrestrial margins of the ISIS are explained as the products of onshore glacier flow that cannibalized and tectonically stacked pre-existing marine and glacilacustrine sediments. Localized tectonic thickening of subglacially deformed materials at the former margins of glaciers results in zones of net erosion immediately up-ice of submarginal zones of net accretion of subglacial till. The more stable the ice-stream margin the thicker and more complex the submarginal sedimentary stack.


Evans, D., & Ó Cofaigh, C. (2003). Depositional evidence for marginal oscillations of the Irish Sea ice stream in southeast Ireland during the last glaciation. Boreas: An International Journal of Quaternary Research, 32(1), 76-101.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2003-03
Deposit Date Apr 4, 2007
Journal Boreas
Print ISSN 0300-9483
Electronic ISSN 1502-3885
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 1
Pages 76-101