Origin and structure of Devensian depressions at Letton, Herefordshire
Groups of circular to oval enclosed depressions in soft sediments of Pleistocene age are relatively common in north-west Europe. These features are normally interpreted as being either glacial or periglacial in origin. Where these features are developed in glacial sediments, a glacial (and specifically ‘kettle hole’) genesis is considered most likely. Some groups of features, however, have been re-interpreted as being periglacial in origin and are thought to be the remains of cryogenic mounds (former pingos or palsas/lithalsas). The problem at many sites, of course, is correct identification and previously this was often resolved through extensive trenching of the sediments. The use of geophysics in the form of electrical resistivity tomography and ground probing radar, however, can aid investigation and interpretation and is less invasive. A group of enclosed depressions in the Letton area of Herefordshire within the Last Glacial Maximum ice limit (Late Devensian) have been investigated in this way. The morphology and internal structure of the features and their existence in glaciolacustrine sediments of Late Devensian age strongly suggests that these depressions are kettle holes resulting from ice block discharge into a shallow lakes or lakes, and hence a glacial origin is supported. The lack of any ramparts surrounding the depressions (at the surface or any evidence of these at depth) and the fact that they do not overlap (‘mutually interfere’) indicates that they are not the remains of cryogenic mounds.
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