Buoyancy-driven lacustrine calving, Glaciar Nef, Chilean Patagonia
Abstract:Glaciar Nef, a 164 km2eastern outlet of Hielo Patagónico Norte (the northern Patagonia icefield), terminates in a proglacial lake that has formed in conjunction with 20th-century glacier retreat. The terminus is inferred to be transiently afloat. A hinge-calving mechanism is proposed in which buoyant forces impose a torque on the glacier tongue, resulting in the release of coherent sections of the glacier tongue as "tabular" ice-bergs. A simple model shows how torque and tensile stress reach a maximum at the up-glacier limit of the buoyant zone, and that glacier thinning causes this point to migrate up-glacier. Empirical evidence supporting this model includes elevated thermo-erosional notches ≤6.5 m above lake level, and the ubiquitous presence since 1975 of "tabular" ice- bergs with surface areas ≤0.3 km2. Flow speeds of 1.2−1.3 m d−1 were measured near the terminus in February 1998. Extrapolations from these short-term data yield a calvingrate of 785−835 m a−1 and a calvingflux of 232 × 106 m3 a−1 or 0.2 km3 a−1. The calculated mean water depth at the terminus is 190 m. This calvingrate is higher than at grounded temperate glaciers calving in fresh water, but is nevertheless almost an order of magnitude less than calvingrates at both grounded and floatingtidewater glaciers.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2001
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