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Basal ice motion and deformation at the ice-sheet margin, West Greenland

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Measurements of basal ice deformation at the margin of Russell Glacier, West Greenland, have provided an opportunity to gain more insight into basal processes occurring near the margin. The basal ice layer comprises a debris-rich, heterogeneous stratified facies, overlain by a comparatively debris-poor dispersed facies. Ice velocities were obtained from anchors placed in both ice facies, at three sites under 5–15 m ice depth. Mean velocities ranged from 20 to 43 m a−1, and velocity gradients indicate high shear strain rates within the basal ice. Stick–slip motion and diurnal variations were observed during measurements at short (1–5 min) time intervals. Vertical gradients in horizontal ice velocity indicate two modes of deformation: (1) viscous deformation within the stratified ice facies, and (2) shear at the interface between the two basal ice facies. Deformation mode 1 may contribute to the folding and shear structures observed in the stratified facies. Deformation mode 2 may generate the stick–slip motion and be associated with the formation of debris bands. Active deformation close to the margin suggests that structures observed within the basal ice are only partially representative of processes occurring near the bed in areas away from the glacier margin.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-08-01

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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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