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Tidewater glacier beds: insights from iceberg debris in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard

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The sediment in icebergs offers an opportunity to sample the otherwise inaccessible beds of modern tidewater glaciers. This paper presents a discussion of the benefits and problems of using iceberg debris to make inferences about the nature of the beds of modern tidewater glaciers. As an example, we present data obtained from icebergs calved from fast-flowing tidewater glaciers in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard. Sediment samples obtained from 12 icebergs show that clast-rich muddy diamicton is the dominant facies, although muddy gravel and mud are also present in some debris layers. Sediment texture and clast-shape analyses indicate that most debris in the icebergs is of basal origin. Micromorphological analyses of thin sections of the diamicton also indicate pervasive deformation of the sediment. Although individual icebergs only represent small samples of the bed of a tidewater glacier, and problems remain in linking iceberg sediments to their pre-calving transport history beneath the glacier, this method provides a potentially fruitful way of linking sediments to glacier dynamics.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2001

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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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