Research article
November 2000

An outline of the lithostratigraphy and depositional history of Quaternary deposits in the Sellafield district, west Cumbria

Publication: Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society
Volume 53
Pages 129 - 154


A lithostratigraphical framework has been erected for Quaternary deposits of the Sellafield district in west Cumbria. It has enabled a sequence of glacial and deglacial events to be established that is one of the most detailed for the last glacial-inter-glacial cycle onshore in Britain and provides new constraints on models of the evolution of the Irish Sea basin during the last 120 000 years. The products of at least one major pre-Devensian (Oxygen Isotope Stage 6 or older) glaciation have been recorded in cored boreholes around Drigg and Nether Wasdale. Ice flowing from Wasdale terminated in proglacial lakes on two occasions during OIS 3 and 4 and an intervening cold-water marine incursion occurred that reached a height of at least 20 m below present sea level, probably during OIS 3. Glaciers emerged again from the Lake District during the build-up of the main Late Devensian ice sheet, which appears to have reached its maximum extent early in OIS 2, when the whole district was glaciated. Scottish ice flowing into the northern Irish Sea basin eventually deflected local ice southwards. The Irish Sea ice stream became dominant again during several readvances that followed a significant deglacial event. The first readvance (Gosforth Oscillation) over-rode most of the coastal plain. The last major one (Scottish Readvance) proglacially tectonized the glacigenic sequence along the coast, forming a push moraine at St Bees. Thick sequences of glaciolacustrine sediment accumulated within the major valleys of the district, both before and after the Gosforth Oscillation, when ice at the coast caused considerable ponding of meltwater inland.

Get full access to this article

Purchase, subscribe or recommend this article to your librarian.

Information & Authors


Published In

cover image Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society
Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society
Volume 53Number 2November 2000
Pages: 129 - 154


Received: 17 August 2000
Published: November 2000


Request permissions for this article.



J. W. Merritt
British Geological Survey, Murchison House, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3LA (e-mail:[email protected])
C. A. Auton
British Geological Survey, Murchison House, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3LA (e-mail:[email protected])


Scientific editing by Martyn Pedley

Metrics & Citations


Article Usage

Downloaded 280 times


Export citation

Select the format you want to export the citation of this publication.

Citing Literature

  • Automated Classification of Estuarine Sub‐Depositional Environment Using Sediment Texture, Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 10.1029/2022JF006891, 128, 2, (2023).
  • Sediment texture and geochemistry as predictors of sub-depositional environment in a modern estuary using machine learning: A framework for investigating clay-coated sand grains, Sedimentary Geology, 10.1016/j.sedgeo.2023.106530, (106530), (2023).
  • Geochemistry of Sub-Depositional Environments in Estuarine Sediments: Development of an Approach to Predict Palaeo-Environments from Holocene Cores, Geosciences, 10.3390/geosciences12010023, 12, 1, (23), (2022).
  • High-resolution 3D geological modelling of heterogeneity in poorly exposed glacial deposits using sedimentary and glaciotectonic architectural element analysis: a case example from Sellafield in west Cumbria, UK, Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 10.1144/qjegh2022-022, 56, 1, (2022).
  • A Lateglacial pollen record from Hallsenna Moor, near Seascale, Cumbria, NW England, with evidence for arid conditions during the Loch Lomond (Younger Dryas) Stadial and early Holocene, Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society, 10.1144/pygs.55.1.33, 55, 1, (33-42), (2022).

View Options

Get Access

Login Options

Restore your content access

Enter your email address to restore your content access:

Note: This functionality works only for purchases done as a guest. If you already have an account, log in to access the content to which you are entitled.

View options


View PDF/ePub

Full Text

View Full Text







Copy the content Link

Share on social media

Suggested Content

The Lyell Collection uses cookies

The Lyell Collection uses cookies. By continuing to use it you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more.