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On the rheology of till

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The deformation of subglacial till is instrumental in causing certain glacier surges, the motion of rapid ice streams in ice sheets, and ice-sheet surges which are associated with Heinrich events, and consequent rapid climatic shifts, during the last ice age. It may also be the means whereby drumlins are formed, and these in turn may act as a brake on large-scale ice flow. It is therefore important in building models to understand the rate at which till deforms, and how this controls the basal ice velocity. In recent years, two paradigms have emerged. On the one hand, theoreticians have tended to use a viscous rheology, though this lacks quantitative support. On the other hand, field and laboratory studies suggest that till behaves plastically. In this paper I will examine some of the dynamic consequences of this latter assumption, and show how the dichotomy between viscous and plastic may be less clear-cut than previously thought.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-06-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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