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Chronology of glaciation and deglaciation during the Loch Lomond (Younger Dryas) Stade in the Scottish Highlands: implications of recalibrated 10Be exposure ages

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Considerable uncertainty surrounds the timing of glacier advance and retreat during the Younger Dryas or Loch Lomond Stade (LLS) in the Scottish Highlands. Some studies favour ice advance until near the end of the stade (c. 11.7 ka), whereas others support the culmination of glacier advance in mid-stade (c. 12.6–12.4 ka). Most published 10 Be exposure ages reported for boulders on moraines or deglacial sites post-date the end of the LLS, and thus appear to favour the former view, but recalibration of 33 10 Be ages using a locally derived 10 Be production rate and assuming rock surface erosion rates of zero to 1 mm ka−1 produces exposure ages 130–980 years older than those originally reported. The recalibrated ages are filtered to exclude anomalous data, and then employed to generate aggregate probability density distributions for the timing of moraine deposition and deglaciation. The results suggest that the most probable age for the timing of the deposition of the sampled outermost moraines lies in the interval 12.4–12.1 ka or earlier. Deglacial ages obtained for sites inside Loch Lomond Stadial glacier limits imply that glaciers at some or all of the sampled sites were retreating prior to 12.1 ka. Use of aggregated data does not exclude the possibility of asynchronous glacier behaviour at different sites, but confirms that some glaciers reached their maximum limits and began to retreat several centuries before the rapid warming that terminated the LLS at 11.7–11.6 ka, consistent with the retrodictions of recent numerical modelling experiments and with geomorphological evidence for gradual oscillatory ice-margin retreat under stadial conditions.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-526
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Early online date13 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

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