Concept and global context of the glacial landforms prior to the Last Glacial Maximum

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The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) was just one of many major glacial episodes through the Pleistocene. However, the last 10 glacial cycles were some of the most intense and longest of the last 2.6 million years. The largest and most extensive glaciers in Europe formed at a variety of times in different places. In many areas of Europe the most extensive glaciers formed 430–480,000 years ago during the Elsterian Stage [Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 12]. In other areas the later Saalian Stage glaciers (MIS 6) were the most extensive, whereas in the east the Don Glaciation (MIS 16) was the most extensive. Europe saw major landscape changes in multiple glacial cycles in the last million years. While there were more extensive glaciers in Europe prior to it, the Last Glacial Cycle (MIS 5d-2) was still a major glacial episode in Europe. However, even within this the largest glaciers were not always at the LGM. In some areas, glaciers were most extensive in MIS 4 and 3, several tens of thousands of years before the LGM. The lesson here is that the evolution of the glacial landscapes of Europe requires careful consideration of the pre-LGM glacial histories in order for the contribution of the LGM and the later deglaciation to be fully understood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Glacial Landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationMaximum Extent of Glaciations
EditorsD. Palacios, P. Hughes, J.M. García-Ruiz, N. Andrés
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherElsevier BV
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9780128234983
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021


  • Middle Pleistocene
  • Elsterian
  • Saalian
  • MIS 12
  • MIS 6


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