Geophysical evidence of deep-keeled icebergs on the Rockall Bank, Northeast Atlantic Ocean

F. Sacchetti, S. Benetti, C. Ó Cofaigh, A. Georgiopoulou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    High resolution multibeam swath bathymetric data acquired from the Rockall Bank reveal an abundance of linear to slightly sinuous seabed incisions. These features, interpreted as relict iceberg scours, provide for the first time evidence that the Rockall Bank was intensively scoured by iceberg keels. While the shallower portion of the Rockall Bank lacks evidence of iceberg scouring, on the western and southern flanks (between 250 and 450. m water depth) the seabed is almost completely covered by thousands of cross-cutting scours. More isolated scours, up to 800. m wide and 25. km long are also observed down to nearly 600. m water depth. Based on a full glacial sea level low stand of 120. m, these isolated scour marks must have been carved by gigantic icebergs with keels up to 500. m deep and able to create incisions up to 15. m deep in the seabed. Analysis of scour orientation, length, width, and depth indicates that these mega-icebergs were likely calved from large, fast-flowing ice sheet outlets draining circum-North Atlantic ice sheets. Prevailing scour orientations suggest a number of possible ice sheet sources, including southeast and southern Greenland and the Donegal-Barra ice stream of the last British-Irish Ice Sheet. The bimodal distribution of the scour depth observed across the Rockall Bank suggest either different icebergs provenances or physical and climatic controls on icebergs draft.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-72
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2012


    • Glacial geomorphology
    • Iceberg scours
    • Multibeam
    • Rockall Bank
    • Seabed


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