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Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth and Planets

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Abstract/ Summary

Ice thickness, computed within the fjord region of Byrd Glacier on the assumptions that Byrd Glacier is in mass-balance equilibrium and that ice velocity is entirely due to basal sliding, are on average 400 m less than measured ice thicknesses along a radio-echo profile. We consider four explanations for these differences: (1) active glacier ice is separated from a zone of stagnant ice near the base of the glacier by a shear zone at depth; (2) basal melting rates are some 8 m/yr; (3) internal shear occurs with no basal sliding in much of the region above the grounding zone; or (4) internal creep and basal sliding contribute to the flow velocity in varying proportions above the grounding zone. Large gradients of surface strain rate seem to invalidate the first explanation. Computed values of basal shear stress (140 to 200 kPa) provide insufficient frictional heat to melt the ice demanded by the second explanation. Both the third and fourth explanations were examined by making simplifying assumptions that prevented a truly quantitative evaluation of their merit. Nevertheless, there is no escaping the qualitative conclusion that internal shear contributes strongly to surface velocities measured on Byrd Glacier, as is postulated in both these explanations.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Scofield, JP, Fastook, JL, and Hughes, TJ, 1991, Evidence for a Frozen Bed, Byrd Glacier, Antarctica: Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth and Planets, v. 96, p. 11649-11655. To view the published open abstract, go to and enter the DOI.

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© Copyright 1991 American Geophysical Union




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