The Neoproterozoic glaciogenic deposits of Scotland and Ireland
Published:January 01, 2011
A. R. Prave, A. E. Fallick, 2011. "The Neoproterozoic glaciogenic deposits of Scotland and Ireland", The Geological Record of Neoproterozoic Glaciations, Emmanuelle Arnaud, Galen P. Halverson, Graham Shields-Zhou
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Of the three major Neoproterozoic supracrustal units in the Scottish and Irish Highlands (the Torridonian, Moine and Dalradian Supergroups), only the latter contains evidence of Neoproterozoic glaciations. The Dalradian is siliciclastic-dominated and constitutes much of the Scottish–Irish Highlands between the Great Glen and Highland Boundary Fault Zones, and their correlatives in Ireland. At the time of writing, three stratigraphically distinct glacial intervals in the Dalradian have been documented in the literature. The oldest is the Port Askaig Formation (Fm.) at the base of the Argyll Group (see Arnaud & Fairchild 2011). It ranges from several tens to many hundreds of metres in thickness and occurs in numerous localities in Scotland and the north of Ireland. A second glacial is recorded in the middle part of the Argyll Group (Easdale Subgroup) and consists of localised sedimentary breccias as well as pelites and schists containing dropstone/lonestone units inferred to be ice-rafted debris; these rocks are patchily preserved and typically a few metres or less in thickness. It is sharply overlain by a variably developed carbonate unit that is marked by a 1–7-m-thick, light-coloured, basal dolostone or dolomitic limestone interpreted as a cap carbonate. This succession is best preserved in Donegal, Ireland, as the Stralinchy–Reelan glacial and Cranford cap-carbonate sequence. A correlative cap carbonate, the Whiteness Limestone, has been identified in the Shetland Islands. The third and youngest glacial is represented by locally preserved dropstone and polymict diamictite beds ranging in thickness from several to a few tens of metres in thickness in the lower Southern Highland Group. These include the MacDuff and Loch na Cille Boulder Beds in, respectively, NE and SW Scotland, and the Inishowen Beds in Donegal, Ireland.
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The Geological Record of Neoproterozoic Glaciations
In recent years, interest in Neoproterozoic glaciations has grown as their pivotal role in Earth system evolution has become increasingly clear. One of the main goals of the IGCP Project No. 512 was to produce a synthesis of newly available information on Neoproterozoic successions worldwide similar in format to Hambrey & Harland’s (1981) Earth’s pre-Pleistocene Glacial Record. This Memoir therefore consists of a series of overview chapters followed by site-specific chapters. The overview chapters cover key topics including the history of research on Neoproterozoic glaciations, identification of glacial deposits, chemostratigraphic techniques and datasets, palaeomagnetism, biostratigraphy, geochronology and climate modelling. The site specific chapters for 60 successions worldwide include reviews of the history of research on these rocks and up-to-date syntheses of the structural framework, tectonic setting, palaeomagnetic and geochronological constraints, physical, biological, and chemical stratigraphy, and descriptions of the glaciogenic and associated strata, including economic deposits.