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Assessing the future evolution of meltwater intrusions into a mine below Gruvefonna, Svalbard

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Meltwater intrusions of glacial origin complicate the operation of a coalmine situated approximately 200 m below the bed of Gruvefonna ice cap, Svalbard. The magnitude of this water input is expected to increase with the intended enlargement of the mine. The current praxis, evacuation of the water by pumping, is an expensive undertaking and prompts the investigation of alternative solutions. The evaluation of different options requires reliable values of the total volume and the input rate of the water to be drained. To quantify the melt rate at the glacier surface, we applied a distributed temperature-index model. The model parameters were calibrated using mass-balance measurements performed at Gruvefonna during the 2003 ablation season. The water discharge in the mine during the same period was derived from records of the pump rate. Comparing the records of modelled melt and measured discharge reveals an efficient hydraulic connection between the glacier surface and the mine. The total discharge volume in the mine over the 2003 melt season was about 2.8 × 106 m3, exceeding significantly the total melt- and rainwater production on the glacier surface directly above the mine (1.2 × 106 m3). This implies that the mine discharge receives contributions from a larger surface area. Based on the distribution of hydraulic potential at the glacier bed, we estimate this contributing area. In a number of scenarios, we calculate the amount of meltwater intrusions for several steps of the planned mine enlargement.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-08-01

More about this publication?
  • 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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