Abstract

During the last glacial maximum, the British–Irish Ice Sheet (BIIS) extended to the shelf edge in the Malin Sea between Ireland and Scotland, delivering sediments to the Donegal Barra Fan (DBF). Analysis of well-preserved, glacially derived sediment in the DBF provides new insights on the character of the BIIS final deglaciation and palaeoenvironmental conditions at the Younger Dryas. Chaotic/laminated muds, ice-rafted debris (IRD)-rich layers and laminated sand–mud couplets are interpreted as respectively mass transport deposits, plumites and turbidites of BIIS-transported sediments. Peaks in IRD, constrained by radiocarbon dating to after 18 cal ka BP, indicate discrete intervals of iceberg calving during the last stages of deglaciation. Glacially derived sedimentation on the slope occurred until c. 16.9 cal ka BP. This is interpreted as the last time the ice sheet was present on to the shelf, allowing glacial meltwater to reach the fan. Bioturbated and foraminifera-rich muds above glaciomarine sediments are interpreted as interglacial hemipelagites and contourites, with the presence of Zoophycos suggesting restoration of bottom currents at the transition between stadial and interstadial conditions. During the Younger Dryas, Neogloboquadrina pachyderma sinistral abundances and an isolated peak in IRD indicate the temporary restoration of cold conditions and the presence of icebergs in the region.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Early Career Research collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/SJG-early-career-research

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