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Possible late Quaternary pingo remnants in central London

Abstract

Active pingos are ice-cored mounds formed within permafrost1. Actual and suspected remnants of such features have been reported widely1–7 from former periglacial and glacial areas of the British Isles (Fig. 1)8–10. They are characteristically located in slope-foot situations with associated present-day springs or poor drainage4–6. Most of the observed features lie between the latitudes of The Wash and River Thames and are generally thought to have originated as open-system pingos11 in the late Devensian. No pre-Devensian pingos have hitherto been recognised. Here I suggest that many of the anomalous, drift-filled, closed depressions in the surface of the rockhead (usually the London Clay) beneath some of the central London terraces, recently reviewed by Berry12, are the partly eroded remains of former open-system pingos, dating both from the Devensian and from earlier cold stages of the Pleistocene.

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