Glacial seismic geomorphology and Plio-Pleistocene ice sheet history offshore NW Europe

Andrew M. W. Newton*, Aleksandr Montelli, Christine L. Batchelor, Benjamin Bellwald, Rachel Harding, Mads Huuse, Julian A. Dowdeswell, Dag Ottesen, Ståle E. Johansen, Sverre Planke

*Corresponding author for this work

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Plio-Pleistocene records of ice-rafted detritus suggest northwest European ice sheets regularly reached coastlines. However, these records provide limited insight on the frequency, extent, and dynamics of ice sheets delivering the detritus. Three-dimensional reflection seismic data of the northwest European glaciated margin have previously documented buried landforms that inform us on these uncertainties. This paper reviews and combines these existing records with new seismic geomorphological observations to catalogue landform occurrence along the European glaciated margin and considers how they relate to ice sheet history. The compilation shows Early Pleistocene ice sheets regularly advanced across the continental shelves. Early Pleistocene sea level reconstructions demonstrate lower magnitude fluctuations compared to the Middle-Late Pleistocene, and more extensive/frequent Early Pleistocene glaciation provides a possible mismatch with sea level reconstructions. This evidence is discussed with global records of glaciation to consider possible impacts on our wider understanding of Plio-Pleistocene climate changes, in particular how well Early Pleistocene sea level records capture ice sheet volume changes. Resolving such issues relies on how well landforms are dated, whether they can be correlated with other proxy datasets, and how accurately these proxies reconstruct the magnitudes of past climatic changes. Many questions about Pleistocene glaciation in Europe and elsewhere remain.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2024
Publication statusEarly online date - 23 Jan 2024


  • Geology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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