University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG) > The separation of Britain from mainland Europe in the late Quaternary

The separation of Britain from mainland Europe in the late Quaternary

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It has been previously suggested that the separation of Britain from mainland Europe in the late Quaternary was a consequence of a catastrophic flood caused by a spillover of a proglacial lake that occupied the present-day southern North Sea basin during the Elsterian glaciation. Such an event would have significant palaeogeographic, biological and archaeological implications, but it remains controversial. Ten years ago we discovered a drainage system carved into the floor of the English Channel that is consistent with the catastrophic flood model. In this talk I will present a new compilation of seabed bathymetry and sub-bottom profiler data that we have used to analyse key landform features both within the downstream region and at the proposed breach point at the Straits of Dover. Our observations support the hypothesis that the landforms were initially carved by high-water volume flows via a unique catastrophic drainage of a pro-glacial lake in the southern North Sea at the Dover Strait rather than by fluvial erosion throughout the Pleistocene. The system also shows evidence for modification by a second flood that may have been a consequence of spillover of younger ice-marginal lake systems to the east, either in the North Sea basin or mainland Europe.

This talk is part of the Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG) series.

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