Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 317–329 | Cite as

The impact of the last European deglaciation on the deep-sea turbidite systems of the Celtic-Armorican margin (Bay of Biscay)

  • Sébastien Zaragosi
  • Jean-François Bourillet
  • Frédérique Eynaud
  • Samuel Toucanne
  • Benjamin Denhard
  • Aurélie Van Toer
  • Valentine Lanfumey


The compilation of results obtained on three giant piston cores from the Whittard, Shamrock and Guilcher turbidite levees reveals a high-resolution stratigraphic record for the Bay of Biscay. Due to the abundance of reworked sediments in these sedimentary environments, a specific methodological approach, based on an X-ray-assisted subsampling phase associated with sedimentological, geochemical and micropalaeontological analyses, was implemented. With an accurate chronological framework, this multi-proxy investigation provides observations on the ‘Fleuve Manche’ palaeoriver and the British-Irish Ice Sheet (BIS) histories over the last 20,000 years. The results obtained highlight the direct influence of the decay of the BIS on the Bay of Biscay deep-sea clastic sedimentation during the last European deglacial phase. During this period, the annual BIS cycle of meltwater seems enough to generate seasonal turbidity currents associated with exceptional sedimentation rates in all the Celtic and Armorican turbidite systems. With very high sedimentation rates, the turbidite levees represent the main deep-sea clastic depositional area. Long coring combined with a very careful subsampling method can provide continuous high-resolution palaeoenvironmental signals.


Turbidite Sediment Supply High Sedimentation Rate Planktonic Foraminifer Core MD032690 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful to IPEV and the crew of the RV Marion Dufresne II for their technical assistance during the SEDICAR and ALIENOR cruises. We wish to thank Y. Balut for his assistance at sea and J. Duprat, G. Floch, B. Martin, J. St. Paul, D. Poirier, R. Kerbrat and O. Ther for their laboratory assistance. Thanks are due to W. Banks and W. Fletcher for assistance with language. We also thank L. Droz and M. Frenz for their very constructive reviews and comments. We acknowledge financial support by the EU project PALEOSTUDIES (contract no. HPRI-CT-2001-0124), the French Programme ‘GDR Marges’ and the ARTEMIS 14C Accelerator Mass Spectrometry French Project. This is U.M.R./EPOC 5805 (Université Bordeaux I-C.N.R.S.) contribution no. 1607.


  1. Auffret GA, Zaragosi S, Voisset M, Droz L, Loubrieu B, Pelleau P, Savoye B, Bourillet J-F, Baltzer A, Bourquin S, Dennielou B, Coutelle A, Weber N, Floch G (2000) Premières observations sur la morphologie et les processus sédimentaires récents de l‘Eventail celtique. Océanol Acta 23(1):109–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bard E (1998) Geochemical and geophysical implications of the radiocarbon calibration. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 62:2025–2038CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bénard Y (1996) Les techniques de fabrication des lames minces de sol. Cah Tech INRA 37:29–42Google Scholar
  4. Bouma AH (1962) Sedimentology of some flysch deposits: a graphic approach to facies interpretation. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  5. Bourillet J-F, Lericolais G (2003) Morphology and seismic stratigraphy of the Manche paleoriver system, Western Approaches margin. In: Mienert J, Weaver PP (eds) European Margin sediment dynamics: side-scan sonar and seismic images. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 229–232Google Scholar
  6. Bourillet J-F, Loubrieu B (1995) Carte bathymorphologique de la marge des entrées de la Manche au 1:250.000. IFREMER, PlouzanéGoogle Scholar
  7. Bourillet J-F, Turon J-L (2003) Rapport scientifique de la mission MD133/SEDICAR. OCE/2003/04. Les Rapports de Campagne à la Mer, IPEV, BrestGoogle Scholar
  8. Bourillet J-F, Reynaud J-Y, Baltzer A, Zaragosi S (2003) The “Fleuve Manche”: the sub-marine formation from the outer shelf to the deep-sea fans. J Quat Sci 18:261–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowen DQ, Phillips FM, McCabe AM, Knutz PC, Sykes GA (2002) New data for the last glacial maximum in Great Britain and Ireland. Quat Sci Rev 21(1/3):89–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crémer M, Orsolini P, Ravenne C (1985) Cap-Ferret Fan, Atlantic Ocean. In: Bouma AH, Normark WR, Barnes NE (eds) Submarine fans and related turbidite systems. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 113–120Google Scholar
  11. Droz L, Auffret GA, Savoye B, Bourillet JF (1999) L‘éventail profond de la marge Celtique: stratigraphie et évolution sédimentaire. C R Acad Sci Paris 328:173–180Google Scholar
  12. Faugères JC, Imbert P, Mézerais ML, Crémer M (1998) Seismic patterns of a muddy contourite fan (Vema Channel, South Brazilian Basin) and a sandy distal turbidite deep-sea-fan (Cap Ferret system, Bay of Biscay): a comparison. Sediment Geol 115:81–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gibbard PL (1988) The history of great northwest European rivers during the past three millions years. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B318:59–602Google Scholar
  14. Grousset F, Pujol C, Labeyrie L, Auffret GA, Boelaert A (2000) Were the North Atlantic Heinrich events triggered by the behavior of the European ice sheet? Geology 28(2):123–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jensen JHF, Van der Gaast SJ, Koster B, Vaars AJ (1998) CORTEX, a shipboard XRF-scanner for element analyses in split sediment cores. Mar Geol 151:143–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lambeck K (1995) Late Devensian and Holocene shorelines of the British Isles and North Sea from models of glacio-hydro-isostatic rebound. J Geol Soc 152:437–448Google Scholar
  17. Larsonneur C, Auffret JP, Smith AJ (1982) Carte des paléo-vallées et des bancs de la Manche orientale (1/50 000). BRGM, BrestGoogle Scholar
  18. Lekens WAH, Sejrup HP, Haflidason H, Petersen GO, Hjelstuen B, Knorr G (2005) Laminated sediments preceding Heinrich event 1 in the Northern North Sea and Southern Norwegian Sea: origin, processes and regional linkage. Mar Geol 216(1/2):27–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lericolais G, Auffret J-P, Bourillet J-F (2003) The Quaternary Channel River: seismic stratigraphy of its palaeo-valleys and deeps. J Quat Sci 18(3/4):245–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Le Suavé R (2000) Synthèse bathymétrique et imagerie acoustique. Zone économique exclusive (ZEE). Atlantique Nord-Est, IFREMER, BrestGoogle Scholar
  21. Manley PL, Pirmez C, Busch W, Cramp A (1997) Grain-size characterization of Amazon fan deposits and comparison to seismic facies units. In: Flood RD, Piper DJW, Klaus A, Peterson LC (eds) Proc Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results, pp 35-52Google Scholar
  22. Martin GB, Thorrold SR, Jones CM (2004) Temperature and salinity effects on Sr incorporation in otoliths of larval spot (Leiostomus xanthurs). Can J Fish Aquat Sci 61:34–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McCabe M, Clark PU (1998) Ice sheet variability around the North Atlantic Ocean during the last deglaciation. Nature 392:373–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Migeon S, Weber O, Faugères JC, Saint-Paul J (1999) SCOPIX: a new imaging system for core analysis. Geo-Mar Lett 18:251–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mojtahid M, Eynaud F, Zaragosi S, Scourse J, Bourillet J-F, Garlan T (2005) Palaeoclimatology and palaeohydrography of the glacial stages on Celtic and Armorican margins over the last 360,000 yrs. Mar Geol 224(1/4):57–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Reynaud JY, Tessier B, Proust JN, Dalrymple R, Marsset T, DeBatist M, Bourillet JF, Lericolais G (1999) Eustatic and hydrodynamic controls on the architecture of a deep shelf sand bank (Celtic Sea). Sedimentology 46(4):703–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Richter TO, Lassen S, van Weering TCE, de Haas H (2001) Magnetic susceptibility patterns and provenance of ice-rafted material at Feni Drift, Rockall Trough: implications for the history of the British-Irish ice sheet. Mar Geol 173(1/4):37–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Scourse JD, Hall IR, McCave IN, Young JR, Sugdon C (2000) The origin of Heinrich layers: evidence from H2 for European precursor events. Earth Planet Sci Lett 182(2):187–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Skene KI, Piper DJW, Hill PS (2002) Quantitative analysis of variations in depositional sequence thickness from submarine channel levees. Sedimentology 49:1411–1430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Turon JL, Bourillet J-F, Equipe ALIENOR (2004) Résultats préliminaires de la mission ALIENOR-MD141-Partie 2. IPEV, BrestGoogle Scholar
  31. Zaragosi S, Auffret GA, Faugères JC, Garlan T, Pujol C, Cortijo E (2000) Physiography and recent sediment distribution of the Celtic Deep-sea Fan, Bay of Biscay. Mar Geol 169:207–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Zaragosi S, Eynaud F, Pujol C, Auffret GA, Turon J-L, Garlan T (2001a) Initiation of the European deglaciation as recorded in the northwestern Bay of Biscay slope environments (Meriadzek Terrace and Trevelyan Escarpment): a multi-proxy approach. Earth Planet Sci Lett 188(3/4):493–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zaragosi S, Le Suave R, Bourillet J-F, Auffret GA, Faugères J-C, Pujol C, Garlan T (2001b) The deep-sea Armorican depositional system (Bay of Biscay), a multiple source, ramp model. Geo-Mar Lett 20(4):219–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sébastien Zaragosi
    • 1
  • Jean-François Bourillet
    • 3
  • Frédérique Eynaud
    • 1
  • Samuel Toucanne
    • 1
  • Benjamin Denhard
    • 1
  • Aurélie Van Toer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Valentine Lanfumey
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de Géologie et OcéanographieUniversité Bordeaux I, UMR 5805 EPOCTalence CedexFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l‘EnvironnementGif sur Yvette CedexFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire Environnements Sédimentaires, Géosciences MarinesInstitut Français de Recherche pour l‘Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER)Plouzané CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations