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Genesis of dewatering structures and its implications for melt-out till identification

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Dewatering structures are a common feature used to identify melt-out till, and the lack of such structures in till could preclude deposition by melt-out. To assess the conditions under which melt-out till can be deposited without forming dewatering structures, I use geotechnical data and a quasi-two-dimensional model of geothermal melt-out. Critical discharge determined from geotechnical data suggests that low-hydraulic-conductivity till can transport up to 1.3 m3 water a−1m−2 without forming dewatering structures,which is two or three orders of magnitude greater than the volume of meltwater produced at the base of glaciers. The model indicates that debris content of the ice and the ability of the till to drain govern effective pressure during melt-out. If the drainage system is poorly developed or the till comes from debris-poor ice, effective pressure is below zero, the condition under which dewatering structures could form. However, till from relatively debris-rich ice (>40% debris) with a well-developed drainage system (channels every 10 m) can dewater without forming dewatering structures. This suggests that the lack of dewatering structures in till does not necessarily imply deposition by lodgement or deforming bed.

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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