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Friday, 22 April 2011

What's in a name?

These are the two alternative views of what the glacier situation might have been in the SW approaches to the British Isles at the peak of the Devensian glacial episode.  The big lobe shown in the top illustration is traditionally referred to as the Irish Sea Glacier or as the Irish Sea Glacial Lobe or even as the Irish Sea Ice Stream.......  I have often used these names myself.

However, I'm increasingly convinced that during the Devensian the Irish Sea Glacier did not have the energy to push through St George's Channel in to the Celtic Sea, and that the ice that affected this southern area came from Southern Ireland.  Can I suggest, therefore, that interested parties should henceforth refer to the Celtic Sea Piedmont Glacier instead?  The word "piedmont" is not perfect, since it implies that the glacier we are talking about occupies a plain at the foot of a mountain range -- and some would have doubts about whether the scale of the Southern Irish uplands is adequate.  However, they look pretty much like mountains to me..... and if you take away the sea (and the ice), the area between Southern Ireland and Cornwall would have looked, around 20,000 years ago, like a very extensive lowland plain with rolling uplands on the northern horizon.

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