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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 16 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 16 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Ice sheet and palaeoclimate controls on drainage network evolution: an example from Dogger Bank, North Sea

Andy R. Emery1, David M. Hodgson1, Natasha L. M. Barlow1, Jonathan L. Carrivick3, Carol J. Cotterill2, Janet Richardson1, Ruza Ivanovic1, and Claire Mellett4 Andy R. Emery et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK
  • 2British Geological Survey, The Lyell Centre, Edinburgh, UK
  • 3School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK
  • 4Wessex Archaeology, Salisbury, UK

Abstract. Submerged landscapes on continental shelves archive drainage networks formed during periods of sea-level lowstand. The evolution of these postglacial drainage networks also reveals how past climate changes affected the landscape. Ice-marginal and paraglacial drainage networks on low-relief topography are susceptible to reorganisation of water supply, forced by ice-marginal rearrangement, precipitation and temperature variations, and marine inundation. A rare geological archive of climate-driven landscape evolution during the transition from ice-marginal (c. 23 ka BP) to a fully submerged marine environment (c. 8 ka BP) is preserved at Dogger Bank, in the southern North Sea.

In this study, our analysis of high-resolution seismic reflection and Cone Penetration Test data reveal a channel network over a 1330 km2 area that incised glacial and proglacial lake-fill sediments. The channel network sits below coastal and shallow marine sediments, and is therefore interpreted to represent terrestrial drainage network. When mapped out, the channel form morphology reveals two distinct sets. The first set comprise two low sinuosity, wide (> 400 m) channels that contain macroforms of braid and side bars. These channels are interpreted to have originated as proglacial rivers, which drained the ice-sheet margin to the north. The second set of channels (75–200 m wide, with one larger, ~ 400 m wide) have higher sinuosity and form a sub-dendritic network of tributaries to the proglacial channels.

The timing of channel formation lacks chronostratigraphic control. However, the proglacial rivers must have formed as the ice sheet was still on Dogger Bank, before 23 ka BP, to supply meltwater to the rivers. Ice-sheet retreat from Dogger Bank led to reorganisation of meltwater drainage and abandonment of the proglacial rivers. Palaeoclimate simulations show a cold and dry period at Dogger Bank between 23 and 17 ka BP. After 17 ka BP, precipitation increased, and drainage of precipitation formed the second set of channels. The second set of rivers remained active until marine transgression of Dogger Bank at c. 8 ka BP. Overall, this study provides a detailed insight into the evolution of river networks across Dogger Bank, and highlights the interplay between external (climate) and internal (local) forcings in drainage network evolution.

Andy R. Emery et al.

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Andy R. Emery et al.

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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
During the last ice age, sea level was lower, and the North Sea was land. The margin of a large ice sheet was at Dogger Bank in the North Sea. This ice sheet formed large rivers. After the ice sheet retreated down from the highpoint of Dogger Bank, the rivers had no water supply and dried out. Increased precipitation during the 15 000 years of land exposure at Dogger Bank formed a new drainage network. This study shows how glaciation and climate changes can control how drainage networks evolve.
During the last ice age, sea level was lower, and the North Sea was land. The margin of a large...