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Interaction between water pressure in the basal drainage system and discharge from an Alpine glacier before and during a rainfall-induced subglacial hydrological event

  • Andrew P. Barrett (a1) and David N. Collins (a1)

Abstract

Combined measurements of meltwater discharge from the portal and of water level in a borehole drilled to the bed of Findelengletscher, Switzerland, were obtained during the later part of the 1993 ablation season. A severe storm, lasting from 22 through 24 September, produced at least 130 mm of precipitation over the glacier, largely as rain. The combined hydrological records indicate periods during which the basal drainage system became constricted and water storage in the glacier increased, as well as phases of channel growth. During the storm, water pressure generally increased as water backed up in the drainage network. Abrupt, temporary falls in borehole water level were accompanied by pulses in portal discharge. On 24 September, whilst borehole water level continued to rise, water started to escape under pressure with a resultant increase in discharge. As the drainage network expanded, a large amount of debris was flushed from a wide area of the bed. Progressive growth in channel capacity as discharge increased enabled stored water to drain and borehole water level to fall rapidly. Possible relationships between observed borehole water levels and water pressures in subglacial channels are influenced by hydraulic conditions at the base of the hole, distance between the hole and a channel, and the nature of the substrate.

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References

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Interaction between water pressure in the basal drainage system and discharge from an Alpine glacier before and during a rainfall-induced subglacial hydrological event

  • Andrew P. Barrett (a1) and David N. Collins (a1)

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