Late-Holocene and Younger Dryas glaciers in the northern Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland

Martin Kirkbride (Lead / Corresponding author), Jez Everest, Doug Benn, Delia Gheorghiu, Alastair Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)
155 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

We present 17 cosmogenic 10Be ages of glacial deposits in Coire an Lochain (Cairngorm Mountains), which demonstrate that glacial and nival deposits cover a longer timescale than previously recognised. Five ages provide the first evidence of a late-Holocene glacier in the British Isles. A previously unidentified moraine ridge was deposited after c. 2.8 kyr and defines a small slab-like glacier with an equilibrium line altitude (ELA) at c. 1047 m. The late-Holocene glacier was characterised by rapid firnification and a dominance of sliding, enabling the glacier to construct moraine ridges in a relatively short period. Isotopic inheritance means that the glacier may have existed as recently as the ‘Little Ice Age’ (LIA) of the 17th or 18th century ad, a view supported by glacier-climate modelling. Nine 10Be ages confirm a Younger Dryas Stadial (YDS) age for a cirque-floor boulder till, and date the glacier maximum to c. 12.3 kyr when the ELA was at c. 963 m altitude. Both glaciers existed because of enhanced accumulation from wind-blown snow, but the difference in ELA of only c. 84 m belies the YDS–LIA temperature difference of c. 7°C and emphasises the glacioclimatic contrast between the two periods. Three 10Be ages from till boulders originally deposited in the YDS yield ages <5.5 kyr and indicate snow-avalanche disturbance of older debris since the mid-Holocene, as climate deteriorated towards marginal glaciation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalThe Holocene
Volume24
Issue number2
Early online date18 Dec 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

Keywords

  • beryllium 10
  • Cairngorm Mountains
  • cosmogenic dating
  • glacier reconstruction
  • 'Little Ice Age'
  • Younger Dryas

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Late-Holocene and Younger Dryas glaciers in the northern Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Profiles

    No photo of Martin Kirkbride

    Cite this