The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Ice-rafting from the British–Irish ice sheet since the earliest Pleistocene (2.6 million years ago): implications for long-term mid-latitudinal ice-sheet growth in the North Atlantic region

Thierens, M., Pirlet, H., Colin, C., Latruwe, K., Vanhaecke, F., Lee, J.R., Stuut, J.-B., Titschack, J., Huvenne, V.A.I., Dorschel, B., Wheeler, A.J. and Henriet, J.-P. (2012) Ice-rafting from the British–Irish ice sheet since the earliest Pleistocene (2.6 million years ago): implications for long-term mid-latitudinal ice-sheet growth in the North Atlantic region Quaternary Science Reviews, 44, pp. 229-240. (doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2010.12.020).

Record type: Article


The Plio-Pleistocene intensification of Northern Hemisphere continental ice-sheet development is known to have profoundly affected the global climate system. Evidence for early continental glaciation is preserved in sediments throughout the North Atlantic Ocean, where ice-rafted detritus (IRD) layers attest to the calving of sediment-loaded icebergs from circum-Atlantic ice sheets. So far, Early-Pleistocene IRD deposition has been attributed to the presence of high-latitudinal ice sheets, whereas the existence and extent of ice accumulation in more temperate, mid-latitudinal regions remains enigmatic. Here we present results from the multiproxy provenance analysis of a unique, Pleistocene-Holocene IRD sequence from the Irish NE Atlantic continental margin. There, the Challenger coral carbonate mound (IODP Expedition 307 site U1317) preserved an Early-Pleistocene record of 16 distinctive IRD events, deposited between ca 2.6 and 1.7 Ma. Strong and complex IRD signals are also identified during the mid-Pleistocene climate transition (ca 1.2 to 0.65 Ma) and throughout the Middle-Late Pleistocene interval. Radiogenic isotope source-fingerprinting, in combination with coarse lithic component analysis, indicates a dominant sediment source in the nearby British–Irish Isles, even for the oldest, Early-Pleistocene IRD deposits. Hence, our findings demonstrate, for the first time, repeated and substantial (i.e. marine-terminating) ice accumulation on the British–Irish Isles since the beginning of the Pleistocene. Contemporaneous expansion of both high- and mid-latitudinal ice sheets in the North Atlantic region is therefore implied at the onset of the Pleistocene. Moreover, it suggests the recurrent establishment of (climatically) favourable conditions for ice sheet inception, growth and instability in mid-latitudinal regions, even in the earliest stages of Northern Hemisphere glacial expansion and in an obliquity-driven climate system.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 21 June 2012
Organisations: Marine Geoscience


Local EPrints ID: 343500
ISSN: 0277-3791
PURE UUID: 78ab6a24-040e-4dec-850b-f12c7dc01e8f

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 03 Oct 2012 12:36
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 05:22

Export record



Author: M. Thierens
Author: H. Pirlet
Author: C. Colin
Author: K. Latruwe
Author: F. Vanhaecke
Author: J.R. Lee
Author: J.-B. Stuut
Author: J. Titschack
Author: V.A.I. Huvenne
Author: B. Dorschel
Author: A.J. Wheeler
Author: J.-P. Henriet

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.