Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

The last Scottish Ice Sheet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Colin K. Ballantyne, David Small

School/Research organisations

Abstract

The last Scottish Ice Sheet (SIS) expanded from a pre-existing ice cap after ∼35 ka. Highland ice dominated, with subsequent build-up of a Southern Uplands ice mass. The Outer Hebrides, Skye, Mull, the Cairngorms and Shetland supported persistent independent ice centres. Expansion was accompanied by ice-divide migration and switching flow directions. Ice nourished in Scotland reached the Atlantic Shelf break in some sectors but only mid-shelf in others, was confluent with the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet (FIS) in the North Sea Basin, extended into northern England, and fed the Irish Sea Ice Stream and a lobe that reached East Anglia. The timing of maximum extent was diachronous, from ∼30–27 ka on the Atlantic Shelf to ∼22–21 ka in Yorkshire. The SIS buried all mountains, but experienced periods of thickening alternating with drawdown driven by ice streams such as the Minch, the Hebrides and the Moray Firth Ice Streams. Submarine moraine banks indicate oscillating retreat and progressive decoupling of Highland ice from Orkney–Shetland ice. The pattern and timing of separation of the SIS and FIS in the North Sea Basin remain uncertain. Available evidence suggests that by ∼17 ka, much of the Sea of the Hebrides, the Outer Hebrides, Caithness and the coasts of E Scotland were deglaciated. By ∼16 ka, the Solway lowlands, Orkney and Shetland were deglaciated, the SIS and Irish Ice Sheet had separated, the ice margin lay along the western seaboard, nunataks had emerged in Wester Ross, the ice margin lay N of the Cairngorms and the sea had invaded the Tay and Forth estuaries. By ∼15 ka, most of the Southern Uplands, the Firth of Clyde, the Midland Valley and the upper Spey valley were deglaciated, and in NW Scotland ice was retreating from fjords and valleys. By the onset of rapid warming at ∼14.7 ka, much of the remnant SIS was confined within the limits of Younger Dryas glaciation. The SIS, therefore, lost most of its mass during the Dimlington Stade. It is uncertain whether fragments of the SIS persisted on high ground throughout the Lateglacial Interstade.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93–131
Number of pages39
JournalEarth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Volume110
Issue number1-2
Early online date15 May 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • British–Irish Ice Sheet, Deglaciation, Dimlington Stade, Flowsets, Ice streams, Late Devensian, Lithostratigraphy, Radiocarbon dating, Readvances, Terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide dating

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Timing and pace of ice-sheet withdrawal across the marine–terrestrial transition west of Ireland during the last glaciation

    Ó Cofaigh, C., Callard, S. L., Roberts, D. H., Chiverrell, R. C., Ballantyne, C. K., Evans, D. J. A., Saher, M., Van Landeghem, K. J. J., Smedley, R., Benetti, S., Burke, M., Clark, C. D., Duller, G. A. T., Fabel, D., Livingstone, S. J., Mccarron, S., Medialdea, A., Moreton, S. G. & Sacchetti, F., 7 Apr 2021, In: Journal of Quaternary Science. Early View, 28 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. The deglaciation of the western sector of the Irish Ice Sheet from the inner continental shelf to its terrestrial margin

    Roberts, D. H., Ó Cofaigh, C., Ballantyne, C. K., Burke, M., Chiverrell, R. C., Evans, D. J. A., Clark, C. D., Duller, G. A. T., Ely, J., Fabel, D., Small, D., Smedley, R. K. & Callard, S. L., 1 Jun 2020, In: Boreas. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Scottish landform examples 45: Sgriob na Caillich: a landslide-sourced medial moraine on the Isle of Jura

    Ballantyne, C. K. & Dawson, A. G., 18 Sep 2019, In: Scottish Geographical Journal. 135, 1-2, p. 139-149 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Deglaciation chronology of the Donegal Ice Centre, north-west Ireland

    Wilson, P., Ballantyne, C. K., Benetti, S., Small, D., Fabel, D. & Clark, C. D., 11 Jan 2019, In: Journal of Quaternary Science. 34, 1, p. 16-28 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Advances in Quaternary studies and geomorphology in Scotland: implications for geoconservation

    Gordon, J. E., Brazier, V., Hansom, J. & Werritty, A., 6 May 2019, In: Earth and Environmental Science Transactions Of The Royal Society Of Edinburgh. 110, 1-2, p. 257-278

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Advances in Scottish Quaternary studies: preface

    Gordon, J. E. & Werritty, A., 16 Aug 2019, In: Earth and Environmental Science Transactions Of The Royal Society Of Edinburgh. 110, 1-2, p. 1-3

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Late Pleistocene sediments, landforms and events in Scotland: a review of the terrestrial stratigraphic record

    Merritt, J., Hall, A. M., Gordon, J. E. & Connell, R., 5 Apr 2019, In: Earth and Environmental Science Transactions Of The Royal Society Of Edinburgh. 110, 1-2, p. 39-91

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 253222772

Top