Groundwater flow beneath Late Weichselian glacier ice in Nordfjord, Norway

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Basal water pressure and water flow patterns are significant factors in controlling the behavior of an ice sheet, because they influence ice-sheet thickness, stability and extent. Water produced by basal melting may infiltrate the subsurface, or occur as sheet or channelized flow at the ice/bed interface. We examine subglacial groundwater conditions along a flowline of the Scandinavian ice sheet through Nordfjord, in the western fjords region of southern Norway, using a steady-state, two-dimensional groundwater-flow model. Meltwater input to the groundwater model is calculated by a two-dimensional, time-dependent, thermomechanically coupled ice-flow model oriented along the same flowline. Model results show that the subglacial sediments could not have transmitted all the meltwater out of the fjord during times of ice advance and when the ice sheet was at its maximum position at the edge of the continental shelf. In order for pore-water pressures to remain below the overburden pressure of the overlying ice, other paths of subglacial drainage are necessary to remove excess water. During times of retreat, the subglacial aquifer is incapable of transmitting all the meltwater that was probably generated. Pulses of meltwater reaching the bed could explain non-climatically driven margin readvances during the overall retreat phase.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2007

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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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