Sedimentology and architecture of De Geer moraines in the western Scottish Highlands, and implications for grounding-line glacier dynamics

Golledge, Nicholas; Phillips, Emrys. 2008 Sedimentology and architecture of De Geer moraines in the western Scottish Highlands, and implications for grounding-line glacier dynamics. Sedimentary Geology, 208 (1-2). 1-14.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.

Download (8MB)


Sedimentary exposures in moraines in a Scottish Highland valley (Glen Chaorach), reveal stacked sequences of bedded and laminated silt, sand and gravel, interspersed or capped with diamicton units. In four examples, faults and folds indicate deformation by glaciotectonism and syndepositional loading. We propose that these sediments were laid down in an ice-dammed lake, close to the last ice margin to occupy this glen. Individual units within cross-valley De Geer moraine ridges are interpreted by comparison with examples from similar environments elsewhere: stratified diamictons containing laminated or bedded lenses are interpreted as subaqueous ice-marginal debris-flow deposits; massive fine-grained deposits as hyperconcentrated flow deposits, and massive gravel units as high-density debris-flow deposits. Using an allostratigraphic approach we argue that glaciotectonically deformed coarsening-upward sand and gravel sequences that culminate in deposition of subglacial diamicton represent glacier advances into the ice-marginal lake, whereas undisturbed cross-bedded sand and gravel reflects channel or fan deposits laid down during glacier retreat. A flat terrace of bedded sand and gravel at the northern end of Glen Chaorach is interpreted as subaerial glaciofluvial outwash. On the basis of these inferences we propose the following three stage deglacial event chronology for Glen Chaorach. During glacier recession, ice separation and intra-lobe ponding first led to subaquaeous deposition of sorted and unsorted facies. Subsequent glacier stabilisation and ice-marginal oscillation produced glaciotectonic structures in the ice-marginal sediment pile and formed De Geer moraines. Finally, drainage of the ice-dammed lake allowed a subaerial ice-marginal drainage system to become established. Throughout deglaciation, deposition within the lake was characterized by abrupt changes in grain size and in the architecture of individual sediment bodies, reflecting changing delivery paths and sediment supply, and by dynamic margin oscillations typical of water-terminating glaciers.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2008 > Geology and Landscape Scotland
ISSN: 0037-0738
Additional Keywords: Dryas, Highland Region, Moraines, Sedimentology, Glaciation
NORA Subject Terms: Glaciology
Earth Sciences
Date made live: 22 Sep 2008 11:44 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...