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Benjamin Chandler (2014)

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Citation: The dissertation presented new work on glaciation in the Ben More Coigach region as well as taking an overall view of the wider implications of the study for glaciological and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions in the Scottish Highlands. The committee felt that this was an exceptional publishable dissertation, highly relevant to geomorphology and worthy of a Masters thesis.

Title: Glacial Geomorphology of Ben More Coigach, N W Scottish Highlands, implications for Loch Lomond stadial glaciation and palaeoclimate.

Shortened abstract: The aim of this research project was to produce a modern interpretation of the geomorphological inventory of Ben More Coigach, Northwest Scottish Highlands, and to relate these interpretations to glacier fluctuations observed elsewhere in Scotland. Quaternary geomorphological mapping has identified evidence for three locally-nourished corrie glaciers, delineated by broad suites of nested recessional moraines. Palaeotemperature estimates, obtained from chironomid assemblages, have been employed to reconstruct palaeoprecipitation during the Loch Lomond Stadial. Based on a precipitation-temperature function presented elsewhere, an annual precipitation of 1777 mm a -1 at sea level is inferred, suggesting wetter conditions than the present day. Modelling steady-state mass balance and glacier flow dynamics demonstrates that the palaeoglaciers would have been viable within the defined Loch Lomond Stadial climatic envelope. Examination of snowblow and avalanching implies that glacier mass balance was, to some extent, augmented by topoclimatic controls, and is reflected in the apparent high precipitation value. Analysis of retreat dynamics in this study suggests that the Ben More Coigach glaciers underwent active, oscillatory retreat, with current evidence implying the response and frequency of ice-marginal oscillations was similar to that of glaciers in modern temperate settings.

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