Devensian glacigenic sedimentation and landscape evolution in the Cardigan area of southwest Wales

Authors Organisations
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-482
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Volume16
Issue number5
DOI
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2001
Links
Permanent link
View graph of relations
Citation formats

Abstract

The depositional processes associated with late Devensian ice in areas bordering the Irish Sea basin have been the subject of considerable debate. Among the key areas around the Irish Sea, southwest Wales occupies a particularly crucial position because it is here that ice flowing from the north impinged upon the coast orthogonally and encroached inland. Two main hypotheses have emerged concerning deglaciation of the Irish Sea basin. The traditional hypothesis holds that sedimentation was ice-marginal or subglacial, whereas an alternative hypothesis that emerged in the 1980s argued that sedimentation was glaciomarine. Southwest Wales is well-placed to contribute to this debate. However, few detailed sedimentological studies, linked to topography, have been made previously in order to reconstruct glacial environments in this area. In this paper, evidence is presented from four boreholes drilled recently in the Cardigan area, combined with data from coastal and inland exposures in the lower Teifi valley and adjacent areas. A complex history of glaciation has emerged: (i) subglacial drainage channel formation in pre-Devensian time, (ii) deposition of iron-cemented breccias and conglomerates possibly during the last interglacial (or in the early/mid-Devensian interstadial), (iii) late Devensian ice advance across the region, during which a glaciolacustrine sequence over 75 m thick accumulated, within a glacial lake known as Llyn Teifi, (iv) a second high-level glaciolacustrine succession formed near Llandudoch, (v) outside the Teifi valley, ice-marginal, subglacial and glaciofluvial sediments were also laid down, providing a near-continuous cover of drift throughout the area. Glacial advance was characterized by reworking, deformation and sometimes erosion of the underlying sediments. The glaciomarine hypothesis is thus rejected for southwest Wales.