Evidence for a Grounded Ice Sheet in the central North Sea during the early Middle Pleistocene Donian Glaciation

Carina Bendixen, Rachel Lamb, Mads Huuse, Lars Boldreel, Jørn Jensen, Ole Clausen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Interpretation of 3D seismic data from the central North Sea yields evidence of a pre-MIS 12 grounded glaciation. The glaciotectonic complex shows buried push-moraines resulting from the thrusting of multiple ice advance phases with horizontal shortening of 35-50 %. The earliest feature, a hill-hole pair, observed within the complex, represents the initial glaciation of the area. This is overlain and deformed by multiple thrusted units with numerous inferred ice-flow directions. The thrust deformation observed shares characteristics with kinematic processes, push moraines, and static gravity processes, seen as gravity spreading and contraction. The glaciotectonic complex in its entirety is interpreted to correlate to a pre-Elsterian glaciation, due to its stratigraphic position below central North Sea tunnel valleys, estimated to be Elsterian in age (MIS 12; 450 ka). The study proposes that the thrust complex correlates to the Donian glaciation in Russia (MIS 16; 600 ka) with ice sourced from Norway. The complex therefore represents a glaciation where a significant area of the central North Sea was covered by an ice sheet, 200ka prior to the Elsterian. This study highlights the fragmentary record of pre-Elsterian glaciations and the importance of incorporating offshore sedimentary archives and regional frameworks when reconstructing Pleistocene climate change.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of the Geological Society
    Early online date1 Dec 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


    • Glaciotectonics
    • Pleistocene
    • MIS 16
    • Donian
    • glaciation
    • central North Sea


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