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Recumbent folding in ice sheets: a core-referential study

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To better understand apparent stratigraphic disturbances in ice cores such as Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2), we examine how ice-sheet flow can transform gentle open folds into order-disturbing recumbent folds. The initial disturbances in the stratigraphy have their roots in transient dynamic processes and local rheological inhomogeneities, but the kinematics of even a simple ice-flow model can deform these disturbances enough to alter paleoclimatic interpretation of an ice core. The local vorticity number suggests which structures can be passively overturned, but analyzing the finite strain along particle paths gives a more complete picture, especially when taken relative to a hypothetical core location. Core-relative isochrones, or ''pre-cores'', predict which stratigraphic disturbances will appear as obviously overturned layers in a core. The deformation-gradient tensor along particle paths allows us to calculate the rotation of segments of various reference slopes. These calculations suggest that observed 20° dips in the GISP2 core are rotating on a time-scale of a few hundred years and could result from distortions with much smaller slopes produced upstream. The time during which they can be recognized to be overturning is short because the rotation rate is high. Once overturned they are flattened further and may be hard to recognize, especially in the small cross-section of a core.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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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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