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The evolution of surface flow stripes and stratigraphic folds within Kamb Ice Stream: why don't they match?

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Flow stripes seen in satellite imagery of ice streams and ice shelves are caused by surface undulations with kilometer-scale spacing and meter-scale relief and generally indicate current or recent fast ice flow. On a similar scale, folding of internal ice stratigraphy depicted in cross-flow ice-penetrating radar profiles is also a common occurrence in ice streams, suggesting a possible relationship between the two sets of features. We have traced surface flow stripes in RADARSATand MODIS imagery on Kamb Ice Stream, West Antarctica, from the onset of streaming flow into the near-stagnant trunk. We compare the morphology and evolution of the surface flow stripes to the folds seen in the internal stratigraphy in cross-ice-stream radar profiles. We find essentially no correspondence in the observed locations or spacings between the radar internal layer folds at depths greater than 100 m and the flow stripes on the surface. The gap in the radar data and the surface mappings in the top 100 m of firn prevents a precise depiction of how the flow stripes and fold patterns at depth diverge. We explore hypotheses about how flow stripes and internal stratigraphic folds can originate and evolve differently as ice flows downstream. We suggest that flow stripes are subject to surface processes that can modify their morphology independently of the internal stratigraphy, leading to changes in the pattern of flow stripes relative to the internal layers below.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-07-01

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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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