Ice-marginal sedimentation associated with the Late Devensian Welsh Ice Cap and the Irish Sea Ice Stream: Tonfanau, West Wales

Henry Patton, Michael J. Hambrey

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11 Citations (SciVal)


This paper provides the first comprehensive description and interpretation of Late Devensian glacigenic deposits exposed in a 2 km-long cliff section at Tonfanau, Mid-West Wales. The section offers crucial insight concerning glacier dynamics and sedimentation on the eastern margin of the Irish Sea Basin. Six lithofacies are identified: diamicton, sandy gravel, well-rounded gravel, well-sorted sand, muddy sand, and laminites. Two diamicton horizons are present: an upper brown clast-rich sandy diamicton, and a lower grey clast-poor muddy diamicton, the latter being only sporadically exposed by wave action. Sand and gravel occur in close association, as well as minor mud and gravel successions. The sedimentary succession at Tonfanau records the dynamics and deposition of both Welsh and Irish Sea Ice. The lowermost part of the exposed section records Welsh ice extending into Cardigan Bay, depositing a diamicton originating from the adjacent hinterland to the West. As the Irish Sea Ice Stream flowed south, it impinged upon the present coastline at Tonfanau, depositing sediment with a northern provenance on top of predominantly Welsh material, as indicated by clasts from the Irish Sea Basin, Anglesey and the Llŷn Peninsula. The depositional environment for the Irish Sea materials is interpreted as one where a fluctuating ice margin generated a grounding-line fan complex in an ice-contact lake that merged laterally with lake sediments derived from suspension and turbidity currents. Succeeding facies indicate over-riding by Irish Sea Ice. Finally, the upper few metres of the succession was subjected to cryoturbation under a periglacial climate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-274
Number of pages19
JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 05 Nov 2009


  • Tonfanau
  • Welsh Ice Cap
  • Irish Sea Basin
  • Devensian
  • Grounding-line fan
  • Irish Sea Ice Stream


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