Glacigenic clast fabrics: genetic fingerprint or wishful thinking?

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The interpretation of glacigenic diamictons is a subjective process, for which quantitative support is frequently sought from parameters such as clast shape and fabric. It has been widely suggested that different glacigenic diamicton facies possess distinct clast-fabric signatures. This paper examines this concept using a data set of 111 clast fabrics, and a synthesis of published results. Eigenvalues are calculated and compared for a variety sedimentary facies. It is concluded that clast fabric alone is not able to discriminate between different glacigenic facies, and it is argued that clast fabric offers little quantitative support in the interpretation of glacigenic sediments. It is suggested, therefore, that although clast fabric may continue to have a role as an indicator of relative strain at specific sites, its use in the discrimination of glacigenic facies is limited. Consequently, we should be much more selective in undertaking such analyses in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-135
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999


  • Clast fabrics
  • Eigenvalues
  • Glacigenic diamictons


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