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Evidence for extreme pressure pulses in the subglacial water system

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A suite of subglacial water-pressure records from the 1996 summer field season at Trapridge Glacier, Yukon Territory, Canada, discloses a hydraulic event that cannot readily be explained by known forcings. We suggest that these records indicate covert failure of the pressure sensors caused by at least one large water-pressure pulse. The sign and magnitude of the pulse appears to have varied spatially and the pulse duration was less than the 2 min sampling interval of our data loggers. Laboratory experiments support this interpretation and indicate that the pulse magnitude exceeded 900 m of hydraulic head, roughly 15 times the ice-overburden pressure. Within glaciers, large water-pressure pulses can be generated when abrupt ice motion changes the volume of the subglacial hydraulic system.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 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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