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Journal Articles Earth-Science Reviews Year : 2015

Sedimentary imprints of former ice-sheet margins: Insights from an end-Ordovician archive (SW Libya)

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Abstract

Fromthe Proterozoic to the Quaternary, the evolution of the Earthwas characterised by recurrent periods of glaciation.However, the margins of many ancient ice-sheets are poorly defined on palaeogeographic reconstructions.The extent and outlines of ancient ice sheets can be better understood through careful documentation ofsediments deposited at the ice-sheet margin. An outstanding example is provided herein based on an end-Ordovician archive in Libya (Tihemboka area, Murzuq Basin). The four sets of structures include: i) subglacialglaciotectonic structures and soft sediment deformations from flowing glacier ice, such as intraformational glacialstriae, intraformational deformation (shear planes, sheath folds), normal microfaults, and large-scaleglaciotectonic folds-and-thrusts; (ii) structures resulting from overpressured subglacial (meltwater) flowssuch as clastic dykes and tunnel valleys; (iii) proglacial depositional structures and facies related to highmagnitudemeltwater floods such as sandstone intraclasts, large-scale bedforms resulting from supercriticalflows, climbing-dune cross-stratification and kettle holes; and (iv) deformation structures resulting from freefloating and nonglacier ice such as ice-keel scours and ice-crystal marks. Such a set of structures points to anice-marginal (essentially continental) depositional setting, and provides an excellent suite of criteria to identifymargins of ancient ice sheets in the stratigraphic record. At a regional scale, a reconstruction through time andspace of the related depositional wedge is proposed. This corresponded to a seismic-scale (N120 m in thickness,40 km in length) ice-marginal wedge in front of an essentially warm-based ice-sheet inducing concomitantlarge-scale glaciotectonic deformation, glacial basin and tunnel valley downcuttings. The related ice-front wasassociated with high-energy meltwater flows feeding a network of deeply incised proglacial channels downstreamand, beyond them, a fluvioglacial deltaic system. Shallow ice-marginal permafrost most likely affectedthe depositional wedge. At a larger scale, the Tihemboka ice-marginal wedge is interpreted as related to a stillstandperiod over the Gondwana platform, developed over an estimated interval of a few thousands of years.Based on these data, the conditions that arose in a particularly favourable context for the development, the preservationand the identification of ice-marginal wedges in the geological record are reviewed. Significantmeltwater-derived sediment deposition and aggradation in an accommodation space resulting either frompreglacial inheritance, glacial downcuttings and/or glacio-isostatic lithospheric flexure, or active tectonic subsidence(>1 Myr) are required for their formation and subsequent preservation.
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Dates and versions

insu-01184739 , version 1 (17-08-2015)

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Flavia Girard, Jean-François Ghienne, Xavier Du-Bernard, Jean-Loup Rubino. Sedimentary imprints of former ice-sheet margins: Insights from an end-Ordovician archive (SW Libya). Earth-Science Reviews, 2015, pp.259-289. ⟨10.1016/j.earscirev.2015.06.006⟩. ⟨insu-01184739⟩
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