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Formation of ice-shelf moraines by accretion of sea water and marine sediment at the southern margin of the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica

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A combination of ground-penetrating radar surveys, physical sedimentology and ice composition measurements has been used to characterize ice and sediment accreted to the southern margin of the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica. The radar data and surface observations show that the ice-shelf margin consists of strongly layered debris-rich ice that contains marine sediment and fossils. A modified Rayleigh-based distillation system has been used to model the isotopic fractionation from sea water to ice in a closed system. The model of ice formation is consistent with formation during almost complete freezing of a sea-water reservoir. By contrast, ice on the upstream side of the grounding line has formed during the early stages of freezing in which a small fraction of the sea-water reservoir has frozen. The model results and the presence of delicate, well-preserved marine fossils are interpreted as evidence of anchor ice formation on the seabed, and rafting of glaciomarine sediment into the bottom of the ice shelf. We argue that repeated accretion of sea water and marine sediment has produced a stacked sequence of ice and glaciomarine debris that forms shore-parallel ice-cored moraines.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2012

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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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