Dr Mike J Smith
Palaeoglaciology of the Last Irish Ice Sheet Reconstructed from Striae Evidence
Smith, M.J. and Knight, J.(in press)
Quaternary Science Reviews
A database comprising some ~5200 individual striation measurements on bedrock surfaces across the island of Ireland was used to produce maps of flowsets corresponding to individual ice flow events during the last (late Devensian) glacial cycle. These flowsets were identified on the basis of regional-scale correspondence between striae orientations which, when linked together spatially, are able to identify consistent ice flow vectors. Four main chronological stages are identified on the basis of this evidence: (i) incursion of Scottish ice into Ireland; (ii) glacial maximum conditions; (iii) ice retreat and dissolution; and (iv) development of localised ice domes. Striae-based reconstructions of the glaciology of the last Irish ice sheet are qualitatively different from those based on bedform (mainly drumlin and ribbed moraine) evidence. Significant differences are apparent in upland areas which have fewer preserved bedforms and a higher concentration of striae. Combining bedform and striae datasets will enable a better understanding of the temporal evolution of the ice sheet. It is likely that both datasets record a snapshot of ice flow direction and subglacial conditions and environments immediately prior to preservation of this directional evidence.