A Pleistocene deposit preserved in deep karst at Coolough, County Galway, western Ireland
Dolan, Megan J.
McCabe, Bryan A.
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Dolan, Megan J., McCabe, Bryan A., Molloy, Karen, Murray, John, Henry, Tiernan, Daly, Eve, & O'Leary, David. (2021). A Pleistocene deposit preserved in deep karst at Coolough, County Galway, western Ireland. Geological Journal, 56(4), 1897-1910. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/gj.4029
Buried karst features result from a complex interplay between carbonate bedrock and structural geology. The enhancement of carbonate aquifers through this interplay creates hydrogeologically complex subsurface drainage networks and highly variable surface topographies. This article reports on the sediment fill and fossil pollen record from a large enclosed negative karst landform at Coolough, near Galway City in the west of Ireland. The landform was discovered during the preliminary site investigation for the proposed N6 Galway City Ring Road. Major joint sets developed in the Carboniferous (Mississippian) Limestone bedrock govern the local hydrogeology and structural evidence suggests that a local fault has controlled the east-west propagation of the deep enclosed depression. Fluvial and lacustrine palaeoenvironments are interpreted from the sediments infilling the enclosed depression, within which three discrete diamicts are identified, potentially representing distinct phases of glaciation. Pollen assemblages, which reflect palaeoenvironments of open woods and grasslands, have been correlated with other deposits in Ireland and Europe and suggest a minimum date of the Early Pleistocene for the oldest of the diamicts, and thus an upper age limit on the development of the karst depression. Fluvial disturbance to the deposit is evident and is likely to be responsible for the chronological discrepancy between the Early Pleistocene and Middle Pleistocene sediments both recorded from the deposit infill. The findings of this multidisciplinary study contribute to an understanding of Quaternary landscape evolution in western Ireland.
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