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Seismic emissions from a surging glacier: Bakaninbreen, Svalbard

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Bakaninbreen is a polythermal glacier in southern Spitsbergen, Svalbard, which surged between 1985 and 1995. For 9 days in spring 1987, when the surge front was travelling at ∼2.5–3.0 m d−1 three single-component geophones and two accelerometers were deployed in a T-shaped array immediately downstream of the surge front to record seismic emissions. The events were characterized by their waveforms and spectral content. At least three different categories have been identified: impulsive P- and S-waveforms, surface P- and S-wave trains, and harmonic (75–130 Hz) events. We interpret the impulsive events to originate at the base of the glacier, at or downstream of the surge front; the surface P- and S-wave trains from near-surface brittle fracture associated with the surface expression of the surge front itself; and the harmonic events from deep sources that involve resonance in a water-filled fracture, associated with the base of the surge front. We believe the basal events are related to the activation of stagnant ice downstream of the surge front, which allows water to access the bed and provides the mechanism for its propagation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 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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