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Seismic observations of glaciogenic ocean waves (micro-tsunamis) on icebergs and ice shelves

  • Douglas R. MacAyeal (a1), Emile A. Okal (a2), Richard C. Aster (a3) and Jeremy N. Bassis (a1)


Seismometers deployed over a 3 year period on icebergs in the Ross Sea and on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, reveal that impulsive sources of ocean surface waves are frequent (e.g. ∼200 events per year in the Ross Sea) in the ice-shelf and iceberg-covered environment of coastal Antarctica. The 368 events recorded by our field deployment suggest that these impulsive events are generated by glaciological mechanisms, such as (1) small-scale calving and edge wasting of icebergs and ice-shelf fronts, (2) edge-on-edge closing and opening associated with iceberg collisions and (3) possibly the impulsive opening of void space associated with ice-shelf rifting and basal crevasse formation. The observations described here provide a background of glaciogenic ocean-wave phenomena relevant to the Ross Sea and suggest that these phenomena may be exploited in the future (using more purposefully designed observation schemes) to understand iceberg calving and ice-shelf disintegration processes.

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Journal of Glaciology
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