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    Reconstructing terrestrial ice sheet retreat dynamics from hummocky topography using multiscale evidence: An example from central Ireland

    Delaney, Catherine ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5846-2377, Adamson, Kathryn ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6272-1458, Linch, Lorna D, Davis, Stephen and McCarron, Stephen (2023) Reconstructing terrestrial ice sheet retreat dynamics from hummocky topography using multiscale evidence: An example from central Ireland. Quaternary Science Reviews, 308. p. 108041. ISSN 0277-3791

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    Abstract

    The research reported here combines high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) derived from airborne LiDAR with ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys and macro- and micro-scale sedimentological analyses to study the geomorphology and internal structure and composition of ridges and mounds within an area of hummocky topography in the Brosna basin, central Ireland. Our evidence indicates that much of the hummocky topography consists of fragmented mega-scale glacial lineations (MSGLs) indicating a phase of accelerated ice flow, overlain by groups of small ridges composed of subglacially derived till and sediment gravity flow deposits. Subtle differences in ridge morphology indicate they may be multi-genetic and formed both ice-marginally as moraines and subglacially as small ribbed moraine. We interpret MSGL-ridge associations as a subglacial bedform continuum reflecting the evolution from a deforming bed to brittle deformation, due to changing thermal and hydrological conditions at the ice-bed interface during ice sheet retreat. Adjacent glaciofluvial landforms indicate initial en- and supra-glacial meltwater drainage, possibly directly related to changing basal thermal/hydrological characteristics and subglacial ridge formation. Subsequently a subglacial conduit system evolved, and later retreat involved formation of ice-marginal ridges. The partially preserved landsystem reflects formation at a polythermal to active temperate ice marginal zone, rather than the stagnating temperate margin previously assumed for this area. Our work demonstrates the usefulness of hummocky topography in identifying changes in ice sheet bed thermal/hydrological characteristics during deglaciation and the importance of combining multiple evidence strands in reconstructing the processes involved in glacial landform construction.

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