Acoustic sub-bottom profiler surveys on the northeast Antarctic Peninsula shelf indicate that parts of the seabed are underlain by an acoustically transparent layer that is thin on the inner shelf and becomes thicker and more extensive towards the outer shelf. Sedimentological and geophysical data are combined to construct a bed model where streaming ice flow, by both deformation and basal sliding, took place within cross-shelf troughs. The model suggests only limited deformation contributed to fast flow on the inner shelf, i.e. in the onset zone of ice streaming, where the bed was predominantly underlain by a stiff till. Thus, fast ice flow in this area might have been by basal sliding, with deformation confined to discontinuous patches of soft till <40 cm thick. Towards the middle and outer shelf, extensive, thick sequences of soft till suggest a change in the dominant subglacial process towards widespread deformation. This downstream change from basal sliding to subglacial deformation is manifest in the transition from stiff-till dominance to soft-till dominance, while a downstream increase in ice flow velocity is evident from the complex geomorphic imprint on the inner shelf evolving to the more restricted set of bedforms on the outer shelf.