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    Timing and pace of ice‐sheet withdrawal across the marine–terrestrial transition west of Ireland during the last glaciation

    Ó Cofaigh, Colm and Callard, S. Louise and Roberts, David H. and Chiverrell, Richard C. and Ballantyne, C. K. and Evans, David J. A. and Saher, Margot and Van Landeghem, Katrien J. J. and Smedley, Rachel and Benetti, Sara and Burke, Matthew and Clark, Chris D. and Duller, Geoff A. T. and Fabel, Derek and Livingstone, Stephen J. and Mccarron, Stephen and Medialdea, Alicia and Moreton, Steven G. and Sacchetti, Fabio (2021) Timing and pace of ice‐sheet withdrawal across the marine–terrestrial transition west of Ireland during the last glaciation. Journal of Quaternary Science, 36 (5). pp. 805-832. ISSN 0267-8179

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    Understanding the pace and drivers of marine‐based ice‐sheet retreat relies upon the integration of numerical ice‐sheet models with observations from contemporary polar ice sheets and well‐constrained palaeo‐ glaciological reconstructions. This paper provides a reconstruction of the retreat of the last British–Irish Ice Sheet (BIIS) from the Atlantic shelf west of Ireland during and following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). It uses marine‐ geophysical data and sediment cores dated by radiocarbon, combined with terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide and optically stimulated luminescence dating of onshore ice‐marginal landforms, to reconstruct the timing and rate of ice‐sheet retreat from the continental shelf and across the adjoining coastline of Ireland, thus including the switch from a marine‐ to a terrestrially‐based ice‐sheet margin. Seafloor bathymetric data in the form of moraines and grounding‐zone wedges on the continental shelf record an extensive ice sheet west of Ireland during the LGM which advanced to the outer shelf. This interpretation is supported by the presence of dated subglacial tills and overridden glacimarine sediments from across the Porcupine Bank, a westwards extension of the Irish continental shelf. The ice sheet was grounded on the outer shelf at ~26.8 ka cal BP with initial retreat underway by 25.9 ka cal BP. Retreat was not a continuous process but was punctuated by marginal oscillations until ~24.3 ka cal BP. The ice sheet thereafter retreated to the mid‐shelf where it formed a large grounding‐zone complex at ~23.7 ka cal BP. This retreat occurred in a glacimarine environment. The Aran Islands on the inner continental shelf were ice‐free by ~19.5 ka BP and the ice sheet had become largely terrestrially based by 17.3 ka BP. This suggests that the Aran Islands acted to stabilize and slow overall ice‐sheet retreat once the BIIS margin had reached the inner shelf. Our results constrain the timing of initial retreat of the BIIS from the outer shelf west of Ireland to the period of minimum global eustatic sea level. Initial retreat was driven, at least in part, by glacio‐isostatically induced, high relative sea level. Net rates of ice‐sheet retreat across the shelf were slow (62–19 m a−1 ) and reduced (8 m a−1 ) as the ice sheet vacated the inner shelf and moved onshore. A picture therefore emerges of an extensive BIIS on the Atlantic shelf west of Ireland, in which early, oscillatory retreat was followed by slow episodic retreat which decelerated further as the ice margin became terrestrially based. More broadly, this demonstrates the importance of localized controls, in particular bed topography, on modulating the retreat of marine‐ based sectors of ice sheets.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: British–Irish Ice Sheet; glacimarine sediments; ice sheet extent; ice sheet retreat; Last Glacial Maximum; Porcupine Bank; radiocarbon dating; subglacial till; western Ireland;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Item ID: 16633
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Dr. Stephen McCarron
    Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2022 13:49
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Quaternary Science
    Publisher: John Wiley and Sons
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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