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Journal of Glaciology

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Abstract/ Summary

Bending shear was observed to produce nearly vertical shear bands in a calving ice wall standing on dry land on Deception Island (Iat. 63.0 oS., long. 60.6 W.), and slabs calved straight downward when shear rupture occurred along these shear bands (Hughes, 1989). A formula for the calving rate was developed from the Deception Island data, and we have attempted to justify generalizing this formula to include ice walls standing along beaches or in water. These are environments in which a wave-washed groove develops along the base of the ice wall or along a water line above the base. The rate of wave erosion provides an alternative mechanism for controlling the calving rate in these environments. We have determined that the rate at which bending creep produces nearly vertical shear bands, along which shear r upture occurs, controls the calving rate in all environments. Shear rupture occurs at a calving shear stress of about I bar. Our results justify using the calving formula to compute the calving rate of ice walls in computer models of ice-sheet dynamics. This is especially important in simulating retreat of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets during the last deglaciation, when marine and lacustrine environments were common along retreating ice margins. These margins would have been ice walls standing along beaches or in water, because floating ice shelves are not expected in the ablation zone of retreating ice sheets.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Hughes, T, 1989, Bending Shear: The Rate-Controlling Mechanism for Calving Ice Walls: Journal of Glaciology, v. 35, p. 260-266. Available on publisher's site at:

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© Copyright 1989 by the International Glaciological Society


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