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Fault-dominated deformation in an ice dam during annual filling and drainage of a marginal lake

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Ice-dammed Hidden Creek Lake, Alaska, USA, outbursts annually in about 2–3 days. As the lake fills, a wedge of water penetrates beneath the glacier, and the surface of this 'ice dam' rises; the surface then falls as the lake drains. Detailed optical surveying of the glacier near the lake allows characterization of ice-dam deformation. Surface uplift rate is close to the rate of lake-level rise within about 400 m of the lake, then decreases by 90% over about 100 m. Such a steep gradient in uplift rate cannot be explained in terms of ice-dam flexure. Moreover, survey targets spanning the zone of steep uplift gradient move relative to one another in a nearly reversible fashion as the lake fills and drains. Evidently, the zone of steep uplift gradient is a fault zone, with the faults penetrating the entire thickness of the ice dam. Fault motion is in a reverse sense as the lake fills, but in a normal sense as the lake drains. As the overall fault pattern is the same from year to year, even though ice is lost by calving, the faults must be regularly regenerated, probably by linkage of surface and bottom crevasses as ice is advected toward the lake basin.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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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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