The development of brittle structures in an alpine valley glacier: Pasterzenkees, Austria, 1887–1997

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Abstract:

Brittle structures exposed in the ablation area of Pasterzenkees, Austria, were interpreted using aerial photographs and maps covering a period of 100 years. The most common structural features observed in aerial photographs are: (1) normal faults, which are particularly well developed along the lateral margins of the glacier and at the terminus; (2) large-scale tension gashes and Riedel shears that develop along the northeastern lateral margin of the glacier and between ice-flow units; (3) thrust faults, which develop at the terminus and cross-cut the full width of the glacier; and (4) band ogives. Longitudinal and transverse topographic profiles are available for the period covered in this study, and ice-flow velocity data are available from 1927. These data provide a means for interpreting the variations of observed structures in terms of ice-flow velocity. Thrust faults predominantly develop during periods of glacier retreat, when the glacier snout becomes an obstacle. Normal faults typically develop in areas of high glacier surface relief and are interpreted as gravity collapse structures. The orientation of sub-vertical, wide open crevasses along the lateral margin of Pasterzenkees varied. These variations are interpreted as reflecting changes of the flow regime and indicate a transition from simple shearing to transtension during a period of ice-flow deceleration.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756506781828872

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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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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