The variety and distribution of submarine glacial landforms and implications for ice-sheet reconstruction

Glacimarine processes affect about 20% of the global ocean today, and this area expanded considerably under cyclical full-glacial conditions during the Quaternary (Fig. 1) (Dowdeswell et al. 2016b). Many of the submarine landforms produced at the base and margin of past ice sheets remain well preserved on the seafloor in fjords and on high-latitude continental shelves after the retreat of the ice that produced them. These glacial landforms, protected from subaerial erosion and beneath wave-base and tidal currents in water that is often hundreds of metres deep, are gradually buried by both hemipelagic and glacimarine sedimentation; they may be preserved over long periods in the geological record if palaeo-continental shelves are not reworked by subsequent glacier advances or bottom currents (Dowdeswell et al. 2007). This means that, first, submarine glacial landforms can be observed at or close to the modern seafloor after retreat of the last great ice sheets from their most recent Quaternary maximum about 18–20 000 years ago using swath-bathymetric mapping systems and, secondly, buried glacial landforms may also be identified and examined within glacial-sedimentary sequences from Quaternary and earlier ice ages using seismic-reflection methods.


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Authors: Dowdeswell, J. A., Canals, M., Jakobsson, M., Todd, B. J., Dowdeswell, E. K., Hogan, K. A.

Editors: Dowdeswell, J.A., Canals, M., Jakobsson, M., Todd, B.J., Dowdeswell, E.K., Hogan, K.A.

On this site: Kelly Hogan
1 January, 2016
In: Dowdeswell, J.A., Canals, M., Jakobsson, M., Todd, B.J., Dowdeswell, E.K., Hogan, K.A. (eds.). Atlas of submarine glacial landforms: modern, Quaternary, ancient, London, Geological Society of London, 519-552.
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