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Geological sketch map and implications for ice flow of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, from integrated aerogeophysical observations

Tom A. Jordan Orcid Logo, Sarah Thompson, Bernd Kulessa Orcid Logo, Fausto Ferraccioli Orcid Logo

Science Advances, Volume: 9, Issue: 22

Swansea University Author: Bernd Kulessa Orcid Logo

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DOI (Published version): 10.1126/sciadv.adf2639

Abstract

The geology beneath Thwaites Glacier, the Antarctic glacial catchment most vulnerable to climate change, is unknown. Thwaites Glacier lies within the West Antarctic Rift System, but details of the subglacial geology relevant to glacial flow, including sediment availability, underlying lithology, and...

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Published in: Science Advances
ISSN: 2375-2548
Published: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2023
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa63536
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Abstract: The geology beneath Thwaites Glacier, the Antarctic glacial catchment most vulnerable to climate change, is unknown. Thwaites Glacier lies within the West Antarctic Rift System, but details of the subglacial geology relevant to glacial flow, including sediment availability, underlying lithology, and heat flux, are lacking. We present the first sketch map of the subglacial geology of Thwaites Glacier, interpreted from maps of airborne gravity, magnetic and radar data, supported by 2D models and 3D inversion of subsurface properties, and the regional geological context. A zone of Cretaceous maficmagmatism extending ~200 km inland from the coast is interpreted, while sedimentary basins are restricted to a region 150 to 200 km inboard of the coast, underlying just 20% of the catchment. Several granitic subglacial highlands are identified, forming long-lived topographic highs. Our geological interpretation places constraints on the basal properties of Thwaites Glacier, laying the foundation for both improved predictions of ice sheet change and studies of West Antarctic tectonics.
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Funders: This work was supported by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) National Capability contribution to the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC) (to T.A.J.), NERC grant NE/S006621/1 [Geophysical Habitats of Subglacial Thwaites (Ghost)] (to B.K.), Antarctic Science Collaboration Initiative program (Australian government) (to S.T.), and the European Space Agency (ESA) 4D Antarctica project (to F.F.).
Issue: 22