Palaeo-ice streams have a profound impact on ice sheet mass balance, flow configurations and surface elevation. We need to know where and when they operated in order to reconstruct former ice sheets and understand how they interacted with climate and sea level. Hypotheses of palaeo-ice stream tracks are now abounding in the literature, but there has been some confusion as to what constitutes good evidence for their existence. In this chapter we have outlined reasons why it is imperative to discover and examine palaeo-ice stream tracks, and report a range of criteria that can be used to aid their identification. From these we have built landsystem models of the expected geomorphology that should arise from ice-stream activity, and report case studies that illustrate these.
The landsystem models presented in this chapter only include the geomorphological imprint and pay little regard to details of the sedimentology of deposits that should arise. A future challenge lies in taking a sequence-stratigraphic approach to extend these models to include styles of deposition and the nature of the stratigraphy that should be left behind. Once such models have been assembled it may be possible to gain extra diagnostics for identifying palaeo-ice streams.
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