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Primary, secondary and tertiary creep of ice modelled as a viscoelastic ?uid

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As an ice sheet evolves, there are ice elements near the surface only recently subjected to stress following deposition, and others that have been subjected to stress over many ranges of time. The constant stress and constant strain-rate responses of ice in uniaxial compressive stress exhibit non-viscous behaviour, that is, the strain rate is not fixed by the stress (and conversely) but both vary with time. At constant stress the initial primary strain rate decreases with time to a minimum, described as secondary creep. It then increases and approaches an asymptotic limit, described as tertiary creep. Analogously, at constant strain rate the initial stress increases to a maximum then decreases to an asymptotic limit. These responses are used to construct a simple viscoelastic fluid constitutive law of differential type. Such a time-dependent law, with timescales changing widely with temperature, can be expected to yield a flow field in an ice sheet that is very different from that obtained from the viscous law. Only comparison solutions for both constitutive laws can determine the differences and significance of the non-viscous behaviour, and the simple law constructed would be a candidate for such comparisons.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2009

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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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