Speleogenetic evidence from Ogof Draenen for a pre-Devensian glaciation in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales, UK

Andrew R Farrant, Christopher J M Smith, Stephen R Noble, Michael J Simms, David A Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The British Isles have been affected by as many as 30 glaciations during the Quaternary. However, the evidence for pre-Devensian glaciations in upland regions is scarce. Understanding the extent and timing of earlier upland glaciations is essential for modelling the long-term evolution and sensitivity of the British Ice Sheet. Caves, being protected from surface erosion and weathering, can preserve evidence of earlier glaciations in the form of speleothem and sediment archives. The 70-km-long Ogof Draenen cave system in South Wales, UK, contains multiple cave levels related to changes in the surface topography and drainage during the past 0.5 Ma. The cave contains evidence of massive influxes of sediment that were sufficient to choke the cave and alter the underground drainage. Analysis of the cave sediments, passage morphology and geometry suggests the cave once acted as a subterranean glacial spill-way before being overridden by ice. Speleothem U-series data
demonstrate that this sediment influx occurred before Marine Isotope State (MIS) 9, probably during the Anglian glaciation (MIS 12). Evidence from Ogof Draenen indicates the impact of subsequent glaciations on the landscape evolution of the region was minimal and that much of the surface topography dates from the Anglian.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-826
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2014


  • glaciation
  • landscape evolution
  • U-Th
  • Wales
  • Ogof Draenen
  • speleothem
  • U-series dating

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