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A laboratory study of ploughing

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Abstract:

A new laboratory device is used to investigate the resistance to clast ploughing at the base of glaciers. In experiments in which a ploughing tip is dragged at different velocities and effective normal stresses through water-saturated sediment from Unteraargletscher, Switzerland, pore pressures above and below the hydrostatic level develop around the tip. The absolute magnitude of these non-hydrostatic pore pressures increases with the ploughing velocity but remains small compared to the sediment yield strength, so that the pore pressures do not significantly weaken the sediment. The shear stress on the tip is independent of the velocity but scales with the applied effective normal stress, in agreement with a Coulomb-plastic behavior of the sediment. The results indicate that, depending upon position close to the object, both sediment compaction and dilation can influence the pore-pressure distribution and thus the sediment yield strength. Comparison with other studies of clast ploughing suggests that the significance of sediment weakening in front of ploughing clasts may depend on the relative magnitudes of the non-hydrostatic pore pressures. Therefore, depending on the dominant pore-pressure response of the deforming sediment, clast ploughing may have the potential to either trigger ice-flow instabilities or stabilize glacier motion.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756507782202775

Publication date: March 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • 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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