Extensive marine-terminating ice sheets in Europe from 2.5 million years ago

Brice R. Rea, Andrew M. W. Newton, Rachel M. Lamb, Rachel Harding, Grant R. Bigg, Phil Rose, Matteo Spagnolo, Mads Huuse, John M. L. Cater, Stuart Archer, Francis Buckley, Maral Halliyeva, Jane Huuse, David G. Cornwell, Simon H. Brocklehurst, John A. Howell

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Geometries of Early Pleistocene (2.58–0.78 million years ago) ice sheets in NW Europe are poorly constrained, but are required to improve our understanding of past ocean-atmosphere-cryosphere coupling. Ice sheets are believed to have changed in their response to orbital forcing, becoming, from about 1.2 million years ago, volumetrically larger, and longer-lived. Here, we present a multi-proxy dataset for the North Sea, extending to over a kilometre below the present-day seafloor, which clearly demonstrates spatially extensive glaciation of the basin from the earliest Pleistocene. Ice sheets repeatedly entered the North Sea, south of 60°N, in water depths of up to ~250 m from 2.53 Ma and subsequently grounded in the centre of the basin, in deeper water, from 1.87 Ma. Despite lower global ice volumes, these ice sheets were near-comparable in spatial extent to those of the Middle and Late Pleistocene but possibly thinner and moving over slippery (low basal resistance) beds.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaar8327
Number of pages12
JournalScience Advances
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

We thank the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) (grant numbers: A87604X, NE/K500859/1 and NE/J500057/1), as well as Cairn Energy, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), and the British Geological Survey University Funding Initiative (BUFI) for jointly funding (with NERC) the individual PhDs of AMWN, RH and RML, respectively. MH was supported by funding from the University of Aberdeen and Senergy GB Ltd. Apache kindly provided access to the Aviat data sets. We would like to thank PGS for permission to use and publish images from their MegaSurvey 3D seismic
data. TGS are thanked for the use of Facies Map Browser to obtain borehole data. Schlumberger, Eliis and ESRI are thanked for software licenses of Petrel, Paleoscan and ArcGIS, respectively, to the University of Manchester. The authors declare that they have no competing interests with regards to this research. BRR led the overall project and wrote the first draft of the manuscript with AMWN. PR, BRR, MS and SA conceived the work on Aviat. MHu conceived the regional seismic mapping, which was developed further by AMWN and RH. All co-authors have contributed to the manuscript at various stages. Mapping from 3D seismic was led by AMWN (iceberg scours, geochronology and palaeobathymetry), RML (MSGL and chronostratigraphy) RH (chrono-stratigraphy), PR (Aviat), MHa (Aviat) and FB provided input on Early Pleistocene glacial horizons. GRB undertook the climate modelling. JMLC led the analyses of the Aviat cores and the environmental interpretations of Aviat were led by BRR, MS and SA. JHu provided insight on the seismic stratigraphy along the Norwegian Channel. DGC provided input on seismic imaging and regional crustal structure. All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the
Supplementary Materials. Additional data available from authors upon request.


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