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Seismic observations of a complex firn structure across the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica
Journal of Glaciology, Volume: 67, Issue: 265, Pages: 777 - 787
Swansea University Author: Bernd Kulessa
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We use seismic refraction data to investigate the firn structure across a suture zone on the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica, and the possible role of glacier dynamics in firn evolution. In the downstream direction, the data reveal decreasing compressional-wave velocities and increasing penetration...
|Published in:||Journal of Glaciology|
Cambridge University Press (CUP)
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We use seismic refraction data to investigate the firn structure across a suture zone on the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica, and the possible role of glacier dynamics in firn evolution. In the downstream direction, the data reveal decreasing compressional-wave velocities and increasing penetration depth of the propagating wave in the firn layer, consistent with 1 m firn thickening every 6 km. The boundary between the Lambert Glacier unit to the west and a major suture zone and the Mawson Escarpment Ice Stream unit to the east, is marked by differences in firn thicknesses, compressional-wave velocities and seismic anisotropy in the across-flow direction. The latter does not contradict the presence of a single-maximum crystal orientation fabric oriented 45– away from the flow direction. This is consistent with the presence of transverse simple shear governing the region's underlying ice flow regime, in association with elevated strain along the suture zone. The confirmation and quantification of the implied dynamic coupling between firn and the underlying ice requires integration of future seismic refraction, coring and modelling studies. Because firn is estimated to cover 98% of the Antarctic continent any such coupling may have widespread relevance to ice-sheet evolution and flow.
Polar firn; seismics; snow mechanics
Faculty of Science and Engineering
This research was supported under Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative for Antarctic Gateway Partnership (Project ID SR140300001). The seismic survey was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) ASAC Project 2581 with Richard Coleman as Chief Investigator.