Depositional and post-depositional history of warm stage deposits at Knocknacran, Co. Monaghan, Ireland: implications for preservation of Irish last interglacial deposits
Organic-rich deposits, uncovered during overburden removal from mantled gypsum karst at Knocknacran opencast gypsum mine, Co. Monaghan, are the best candidate to date for a last interglacial record in Ireland. The two till and organic-rich deposits (preserved at different quarry elevations) were emplaced on to a Tertiary dolerite surface during high-energy flood events and subsequently folded and faulted by movement towards sinkholes in underlying gypsum. Uranium-thorium disequilibrium dating suggests that the organic-rich deposits in the upper section were hydrologically isolated at ca. 41 ka and those in the lower section at ca. 86 ka. Interpretation of the pollen content, although tentative because of the depositional and post-depositional history of the material, suggests that the organic material originated in a warm stage possibly warmer than the post-Eemian interstadials. The unusual setting of preservation may indicate that in situ, last interglacial deposits have generally been removed by erosion in Ireland.