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Equifinality of basal ice facies from an Antarctic cold-based glacier

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Three debris-bearing ice facies were recognized atthe base of Suess Glacier, a cold-based glacier damming a lake in Taylor Valley, South Victoria Land, Antarctica. These facies are termed "amber ice", "solid facies" and "basal stratified facies". This paper uses stable-isotope composition (D and 18O), gas content and gas composition (CO2, O2 and N2) to develop an understanding of the processes responsible for the formation of these facies. The basal ice is characterized by a striking difference in ice properties between the innermost end of a 25 m long tunnel dug 200 m upstream from the glacier front and the front itself. At the glacier front, co-isotopic data plot along a well-defined freezing slope (S = 5.6), whereas, inside the tunnel, the isotopic data offset from the freezing slope and from the local meteoric water-line (which has a slope of 8.2). CO2 concentrations rise from a minimum of about 1000 ppmv in the tunnel to about 220 000 ppmv at the front. Taken together, these characteristics strongly suggest an increasing contribution of liquid water in the formation of basal ice towards the glacier terminus. We therefore conclude that visually similar basal ice facies can have different origins.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2003

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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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