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Ice-core evidence of the thickness and character of clear-facies basal ice: Glacier de Tsanfleuron, Switzerland

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Five ice cores have been retrieved from a transect close to the terminus of Glacier de Tsanfleuron, Switzerland. The cores extend from the ice surface to the glacier bed, and are 3.5–44.8 m long. Stratigraphic logging based on bubble size and density reveals the presence of a highly metamorphosed basal ice layer, about 10 m thick, from which all traces of bubble-rich ice have been removed. This bubble-poor ice, which corresponds closely with clear-facies ice observed in cavities beneath numerous temperate-based glaciers, contrasts with the overlying bubble-rich or bubble-foliated englacial ice and the underlying debris-rich and bubble-free dispersed-facies basal ice.

Down-core patterns in major-ion composition, stable-isotope composition and total gas content and composition are generally consistent with formation of clear-facies ice by deformation-related metamorphism of bubbly, englacial ice. In addition, isotopic data suggest that storage of downward-percolating meltwaters occurs close to the upper surface of the clear-facies ice layer, perhaps reflecting a local variation in ice permeability across the transition from englacial to clear-facies ice. Enrichment in crustally derived ionic species is noted in the lowermost decimetres of the debris-free, clear-facies ice that immediately overlies debris-rich dispersed-facies basal ice. This ionic enrichment in debris-free ice is interpreted in terms of active inter-granular meltwater flow within some decimetres of the glacier bed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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