An outline is given of the Quaternary geology and geomorphology of Court Hill Col in Failand Ridge near Clevedon, Avon County, from observations made during the construction of the M5 Motorway.
A glacial col-gully about 100 m wide and approximately 25 m deep is described. The col-gully, eroded through the Carboniferous Limestone, opens and deepens northward. Associated with the Col and the col-gully is a complex sequence of Quaternary deposits. Uppermost in the sequence is a layer of red sandy silt (cover sand) approximately 0.5 m thick, of periglacial origin, probably of Devensian (Weichselian) age. Largely confined to the col-gully are unstratified tills, stratified ice-contact deposits and glacio-lacustrine deltaic deposits. The glaciogenic deposits are up to 25 m thick. Boulders of about 8 Mg in weight have been observed.
The geomorphology of the col-gully, and the stratification and composition of the glaciogenic deposits, demonstrate that an ice sheet at least 85 m thick had impinged against the south flank of Failand Ridge and was discharging immense quantities of water and sediment down an ice-contact slope through the Col into a small ice-marginal lake north of the col-gully. The ice sheet is regarded as being Wolstonian, or Anglian, in age.
The precise origins of the col-gully and the interpretation of the glacial sequence are not yet completely clear. However, it is believed that the balance of evidence indicates that both the col-gully itself and the glaciogenic deposits represent a complex sub-, en- and pro-glacial sequence associated with the downwasting and division of an ice mass into two parts by the "emergence" of Failand Ridge. The possible extent and geomorphological implications of ice-sheet penetration into the Bristol area are briefly discussed.