A detailed record of deglacial and early post-glacial fluvial evolution: The river Ure in north Yorkshire, UK

James Innes (Lead / Corresponding author), Wishart Mitchell, Charlotte O’brien, David Roberts, Mairead Rutherford, David Bridgland

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    2 Citations (Scopus)
    91 Downloads (Pure)


    The lower reaches of the River Ure, on the flanks of the Pennine Hills in northern England, contain sedimentary and erosional landforms that are a record of fluvial activity during deglaciation and valley-glacier retreat at the end of the last (Devensian) glacial period, and in the subsequent post-glacial Holocene. Terraces and channels, most of which are now relict features well above the altitude of the present river, attest to the impacts of massive meltwater discharge and deposition of sand and gravel outwash, and dynamic river regimes with rapid incision. Through field survey, we have created a detailed geomorphological map of these landforms and glacial and fluvioglacial surface deposits, as well as the terraces and palaeochannels that were abandoned by the river due to avulsion and incision-driven course changes. We have recorded the nature of the outwash gravels, now effectively terrace features, from exposed sections in working quarries, one of which we discuss here. The palaeochannels have accumulated sediment fills and we have examined several which lie within the range of 100 and 16 m above present sea level. The results of lithostratigraphic, palynological, and radiocarbon analyses at two main and three subsidiary sites indicate that palaeochannel ages range from almost 14,000 to approximately 4000 calibrated years ago in a clear altitudinal sequence. The oldest are probably caused by rapid incision due to deglaciation-driven isostatic uplift. The similarity in date of the three downstream sites suggests that a late Holocene combination of climatic deterioration and increased human activity in the catchment caused instability and entrenchment. Pollen data from the channel fills provide relative dating, and agree well with pollen records from other regional Lateglacial and Holocene sites. Non-pollen palynomorph (NPP) analysis at one of the sites allows reconstruction of the hydrological history of channel infill. This research shows that the application of an integrated suite of research techniques can yield a highly detailed understanding of fluvial evolution and landscape history.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number9
    Number of pages28
    Issue number1
    Early online date8 Mar 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2021


    • Fluvial evolution
    • Fluvioglacial sediment
    • Geomorphological mapping
    • North Yorkshire
    • Palynology
    • River Ure

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Earth-Surface Processes
    • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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