Mark Grosvenor.

Geography student awarded QRA Dissertation Prize 2009

Geography student Mark Grosvenor has been awarded the Quaternary Research Association (in association with the RGS) Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2009.

His dissertation titled “Palaeoclimatic implications of tephra at a new site within the Menteith Moraine of the Loch Lomond Readvance Glacier” was supervised by Prof. Chris Turney.

The aim of the dissertation was to look into the timing of ice retreat for part of the Loch Lomond Readvance Glacier. The site, a peat bog at the head of the Forth Valley in Scotland, had not been subject to any previous sediment core analysis yet the peat is underlain by a complex moraine system dating from the Loch Lomond Stadial. 

The key finding was the likely identification of the relatively widespread Vedde Ash from the Katla volcano in Iceland (dated to around 10,300 radiocarbon years before present). The presence of the ash within the organic peat sediment indicated that ice had already retreated long enough for plants to begin colonisation of the moraine. This strengthens evidence from previous research and shows how sensitive the ice was to climatic change. 

Volcanic ash (tephra) can be used as a time-parallel horizon within sediment allowing comparisons to other sites across north west Europe also containing the Vedde Ash to compare the climatic conditions (reconstructed using other sediment analysis methods) at the same time.

Other sediment analysis techniques used in this project included lithostratigraphy, particle-size, organic content (loss on ignition) and magnetic susceptibility. 

Date: 1 March 2010

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