Integrated chronological control on a Pleistocene river terrace sequence: the Medway, eastern Essex, England.

R.M. Briant, A.A. Kilfeather, S. Parfitt, K.E.H. Penkman, R.C. Preece, H.M. Roe, J-L. Schwenninger, F.F. Wenban-Smith, J.E. Whitaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Late Middle Pleistocene Thames-Medway deposits in eastern Essex comprise both large expanses of Palaeolithic artefact-bearing river sands/gravels and deep channels infilled with thick sequences of fossiliferous fine-grained estuarine sediments that yield valuable palaeoenvironmental information. Until recently, chronological control on these deposits was limited to terrace stratigraphy and limited amino-acid racemisation (AAR) determinations. Recent developments in both this and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating make them potentially powerful tools for improving the chronological control on such sequences. This paper reports new AAR analyses and initial OSL dating from the deposits in this region. These results will help with ongoing investigation of patterns of early human settlement.

Using AAR, the attribution by previous workers of the interglacial channel deposits to both MIS 11 (Tillingham Clay) and MIS 9 (Rochford and Shoeburyness Clays) is reinforced. Where there are direct stratigraphic relationships between AAR and OSL as with the Cudmore Grove and Rochford Clays and associated gravels, they agree well. Where OSL dating is the only technique available, it seems to replicate well, but must be treated with caution since there are relatively few aliquots. It is suggested on the basis of this initial OSL dating that the gravel deposits date from MIS 8 (Rochford and Cudmore Grove Gravels) and potentially also MIS 6 (Dammer Wick and Barling Gravels). However, the archaeological evidence from the Barling Gravel and the suggested correlations between this sequence and upstream Thames terraces conflict with this latter age estimate and suggest that it may need more investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-108
Number of pages22
Journalproceedings of the Geologists Association
Issue number1
Early online date13 Sep 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Palaeontology


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