Manchester Geographical Society

North West Geography


Volume 14, Number 1, 2014

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Towards a robust deglacial chronology for the northwest England
sector of the last British-Irish Ice Sheet

A number of absolute age determinations that provide a timeframe for the deglaciation of the last ice sheet in northwest England are reviewed. Some of the ages are probably too old and are therefore unreliable; some others have large associated uncertainties and are imprecise estimates for the loss of ice cover. Several ages are minimum ages for deglaciation because they record the timing of sedimentary events made possible by the removal of ice. The tightest age constraints on deglaciation are those derived from cosmogenic nuclide surface exposure dating but for some sites only a single age is available. Nevertheless together these age determinations indicate that between ~18 ka and ~17 ka northwest England began to emerge from its cover of glacial ice. Valley glaciers persisted in the Lake District until ~15 ka but had probably disappeared by 14.7 ka, or shortly after, when climate warmed abruptly. A more detailed picture of the style and rate of deglaciation is likely to come in the next few years as a result of the BRITICE-CHRONO project.

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