Tracer experiments and borehole observations in the overdeepening of Aletschgletscher, Switzerland
Abstract:The subglacial drainage in a pronounced overdeepening of Grosser Aletschgletscher, Switzerland was investigated by borehole water-level observations and dye-tracer injections. In August 1990 and 1991, tracer was injected at the bottom of a borehole (depth 904 m and 710 m, respectively), and simultaneously in a nearby moulin. The moulin and borehole injections identified two different flow systems coexisting within the overdeepening. The moulin injection yielded short-lived, highly peaked break-through curves with high velocities, indicating a hydraulically efficient channelized system. The borehole-tracer return occurred in broad multiple peaks characterized by a striking diurnal periodicity and, in general, correlated inversely with discharge. Water level in the borehole experienced high diurnal variations in phase with discharge at the snout indicating "closed channel flow" over large parts of the glacier. We infer that the boreholes drained subglacially and were connected to a drainage system with significant long-term storage capacity. Release of labelled water was triggered by daily water-pressure cycles.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 1999
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