Sedimentary architecture and landforms of the late Saalian (MIS 6) ice sheet margin offshore of the Netherlands
van Kesteren, W.P.
Reconstructing the growth and decay of palaeo-ice sheets is critical to understanding the relationships between global climate and sea-level change and to testing numerical ice sheet models. In this study, we integrate recently acquired high-resolution 2D seismic reflection and borehole datasets from two wind-farm sites offshore of the Netherlands to investigate the sedimentary, geomorphological, and glaciotectonic records left by the Saalian Drenthe substage glaciation, when Scandinavian land ice reached its southernmost extent in the southern North Sea (ca. 160 ka, Marine Isotope Stage 6). A complex assemblage of glaciogenic sediments and glaciotectonic structures is buried in the shallow subsurface. The northern wind-farm site revealed a set of NE–SW-oriented subglacial meltwater channels filled with till and glaciofluvial sediments and an E–W-trending composite ridge with local evidence of intense glaciotectonic deformation that denotes the maximum limit reached by the ice. Based on the identified glacial geomorphology, we refine the mapping of the maximum ice sheet extent offshore, revealing that the ice margin morphology is more complex than previously envisaged and displaying a lobate shape. Ice retreat left an unusual paraglacial landscape characterised by the progressive infilling of topographic depressions carved by ice-driven erosion and a diffuse drainage network of outwash channels. The net direction of outwash was to the west and southwest into a nearby glacial basin. We demonstrate the utility of offshore wind-farm data as records of process–form relationships preserved in buried landscapes, which can be utilised in refining palaeo-ice sheet margins and informing longer-term drivers of change in low-relief settings.
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sea level change
Earth Surface Dynamics, 9 (9), 1399-1421