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Middle Pleistocene interglacial deposits at Barling, Essex, England: evidence for a longer chronology for the Thames terrace sequence

Bridgland, D.R.; Preece, R.C.; Roe, H.M.; Tipping, R.M.; Coope, G.R.; Field, M.H.; Robinson, J.E.; Schreve, D.C.; Crowe, K.


R.C. Preece

H.M. Roe

R.M. Tipping

G.R. Coope

M.H. Field

J.E. Robinson

D.C. Schreve

K. Crowe


Results are presented from a multidisciplinary study of fossiliferous interglacial deposits on the northern side of the Thames estuary. These fill a channel cut into London Clay bedrock and overlain by the Barling Gravel, a Thames-Medway deposit equivalent to the Lynch Hill and Corbets Tey Gravels of the Middle and Lower Thames, respectively. The channel sediments yielded diverse molluscan and ostracod assemblages, both implying fully interglacial conditions and a slight brackish influence. Pollen analysis has shown that the deposits accumulated during the early part of an interglacial. Plant macrofossils, particularly the abundance of Trapa natans, reinforce the interglacial character of the palaeontological evidence. A beetle fauna, which includes four taxa unknown in Britain at present, has allowed quantification of palaeotemperature using the mutual climatic range method (Tmax 17 to 26 °C; Tmin -11 to 13 °C). A few vertebrate remains have been recovered from the interglacial deposits, but a much larger fauna, as well as Palaeolithic artefacts, is known from the overlying Barling Gravel. The age of the interglacial deposits is inferential. The geological context suggests a late Middle Pleistocene interglacial, part of the post-diversion Thames system and therefore clearly post-Anglian. This conclusion is supported by amino acid ratios from the shells of freshwater molluscs. The correlation of the overlying Barling Gravel with the Lynch Hill/Corbets Tey aggradation of the Thames valley constrains the age of the Barling interglacial to marine oxygen isotope stages 11 or 9. The presence of Corbicula fluminalis and Pisidium clessini confirms a pre-Ipswichian (marine oxygen isotope substage 5e) age and their occurrence in the early part of the interglacial cycle at Barling precludes correlation with marine oxygen isotope stage 11, as these taxa occur only later in that interglacial at sites such as Swanscombe and Clacton. Thus by process of elimination a marine oxygen isotope stage 9 age would appear probable.


Bridgland, D., Preece, R., Roe, H., Tipping, R., Coope, G., Field, M., …Crowe, K. (2001). Middle Pleistocene interglacial deposits at Barling, Essex, England: evidence for a longer chronology for the Thames terrace sequence. Journal of Quaternary Science, 16(8), 813-840.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2001-12
Deposit Date Jul 31, 2008
Journal Journal of Quaternary Science
Print ISSN 0267-8179
Electronic ISSN 1099-1417
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 8
Pages 813-840
Keywords River Thames, River terrace, Interglacial, Biostratigraphy, Marine oxygen isotope stage 9.