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Basal ice of glaciers and ice sheets frequently contains a well-developed stratification of distinct, semi-continuous, alternating layers of debris-poor and debris-rich ice. Here, the nature and distribution of shear within stratified basal ice are assessed through the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) of samples collected from Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. Generally, the AMS reveals consistent moderate-to-strong fabrics reflecting simple shear in the direction of ice flow; however, AMS is also dependent upon debris content and morphology. While sample anisotropy is statistically similar throughout the sampled section, debris-rich basal ice composed of semi-continuous mm-scale layers (the stratified facies) possesses well-defined triaxial to oblate fabrics reflecting shear in the direction of ice flow, whereas debris-poor ice containing mm-scale star-shaped silt aggregates (the suspended facies) possesses nearly isotropic fabrics. Thus, deformation within the stratified basal ice appears concentrated in debris-rich layers, likely the result of decreased crystal size and greater availability of unfrozen water associated with high debris content. These results suggest that variations in debris-content over small spatial scales influence ice rheology and deformation in the basal zone.
New evidence from recent field and seismic investigations in the Lake Michigan basin and in the type areas of the Valders, Two Creeks and Two Rivers deposits necessitates revision of late-glacial ice-front positions, rock- and time-stratigraphic nomenclature and climatic interpretations and deglaciation patterns for the period ca. 14,000–7,000 radiocarbon years B.P. The previously reported and long accepted pattern of deglaciation for the Lake Michigan basin started with a regular retreat from the Lake Border Morainic System, with a minor oscillation marked by the Port Huron moraine(s) and then an extensive Twocreekan deglaciation followed by a major (320 km) post-Twocreekan advance (Valders). However, we now record a major retreat between the times of the Lake Border and Port Huron moraines, followed by a gradual retreat from the Port Huron limit and interrupted by a minor standstill (deposition of Manitowoc Till), a retreat (Twocreekan) and a readvance (Two Rivers Till). No Woodfordian or younger readvance was as extensive as had been the preceding one. This sequence argues for a normal, climatically controlled, progressive deglaciation rather than one interrupted by a major post-Twocreekan (formerly Valderan) surge. This revision appears finally to harmonize the geologic evidence and the palynological record for the Great Lakes region. Our investigations show that Valders Till from which the Valderan Substage was named is late-Woodfordian in age. We propose the term “Greatlakean” as a replacement for the now misleading time-stratigraphic term “Valderan”. The type section and the definition of the upper and lower boundaries of the Greatlakean Substage remain the same as those originally proposed for the Valderan Substage but the name is changed.
In July 1988, the FlatFish Range Fire burned over the type-Pinedale moraines at Fremont Lake, Wyoming, and caused extensive exfoliation of exposed boulder surfaces. The mass of exfoliated material from 130 of 1030 boulders investigated was measured and recorded with information concerning factors that could influence the extent of fire-induced exfoliation. The range in thickness of material removed from 98 randomly selected boulders within the burn area (averaged over the entire exposed boulder surface area) is 6.1 to < 0.1 mm. The mean thickness loss for all 98 boulders is 0.9 mm/fire and the expected loss from individual boulders (median) is 0.4 mm/fire. At the 95% confidence level there is no significant relationship between the degree of exfoliation and boulder size, lithology, grain size, proximity to vegetation, or vegetation density. The expected fire-induced boulder surface erosion rates range from 5.9 to 0.3 x 10-3 mm/yr on boulders in sagebrush rangeland where fire recurrence intervals are typically every 20 to 400 yr. Fire-induced exfoliation may account for differences in boulder size and abundance on Pinedale and Bull Lake moraines. Surface dating methods using varnish or cosmogenic nuclides may yield exposure ages that are too young if the consequences of range fires are not considered when sampling boulder surfaces that are within about 2 m above ground level.
From New Jersey to southwestern New York, Altonian colluvium and fluvial gravel have been recognized beneath Woodfordian drift, but the existence of Altonian till near or beyond the Woodfordian border has not been demonstrated. Reworking of weathered materials by Woodfordian ice has produced some drift with an “Altonian” appearance. Soil criteria, applied without regard for parent material differences, have been incorrectly used to infer an Altonian age for Illinoian deposits that have a redbed provenance. The currently mapped distribution of Altonian till and the occurrence of undisturbed Illinoian deposits within areas of inferred Altonian ice cover are incompatible with the behavior of ice sheets.
Glaciers often advance over proglacial sediments, which then may enhance basal motion. For glaciers with abundant meltwater, thermodynamic considerations indicate that the sediment–ice contact in the direction of ice flow tends toward an angle opposed to and somewhat steeper than the surface slope (by slightly more than 50%). A simple model based on this hypothesis yields the extent of over-ridden sediments as a function of sediment thickness and strength, a result that may be useful in guiding additional fieldwork for hypothesis testing. Sediment-floored as well as rock-floored overdeepenings are common features along glacier flow paths and are expected based on theories of glacier erosion, entrainment, transport and deposition.
The numerous debris bands in the terminus region of Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A., were formed by injection of turbid meltwaters into basal crevasses. The debris bands are millimeter(s)-thick layers of silt-rich ice cross-cutting older, debris-poor englacial ice. The sediment grain-size distribution of the debris bands closely resembles the suspended load of basal waters, and of basal and proglacial ice grown from basal waters, but does not resemble supraglacial debris, till or the bedload of subglacial streams. Most debris bands contain anthropogenic tritium (3H) in concentrations similar to those of basal meltwater and ice formed from that meltwater, but cross-cut englacial ice lacking tritium. Stable-isotopic ratios (δ18O and δD) of debris-band ice are consistent with freezing from basal waters, but are distinct from those in englacial ice. Ice petrofabric data along one debris band lack evidence of active shearing. High basal water pressures and locally extensional ice flow associated with overdeepened subglacial basins favor basal crevasse formation.
Several different types of laterally extensive debris bands occur along the western terminus region of the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A. An ice-bed process, which to our knowledge has not previously been recognized and described, forms the most common and most prominent type of debris band at Matanuska Glacier’s terminus. The debris bands are composed of one or several millimeter-thick laminations of silt-rich ice having much higher sediment content than that of the surrounding ice. Samples of these bands and their surrounding englacial ice have been analyzed for anthropogenic tritium (3H), oxygen-18 (δ18O), and deuterium (δD).We interpreted the laminated, silt-rich debris bands as basal fractures, along which silt-laden, glaciohydraulically supercooled and pressurized waters flowed, healing the fractures by ice growth. This process is analogous to the inward growth of hydrothermal quartz from the sides of an open fracture.
Two rain events at Matanuska Glacier illustrate how subglacial drainage system development and snowpack conditions affect hydrologic response at the terminus. On 21 and 22 September 1995, over 56 mm of rain fell in the basin during a period usually characterized by much drier conditions. This event caused an 8-fold increase in discharge and a 47-fold increase in suspended-sediment concentration. Peak suspended-sediment concentration exceeded 20 kg m —3, suggesting rapid evacuation of stored sediment. While water discharge returned to its pre-storm level nine days after the rain ceased, suspended- sediment concentrations took about 20 days to return to pre-storm levels. These observations suggest that the storm influx late in the melt season probably forced subglacial water into a more distributed system. In addition, subglacially transported sediments were supplemented to an unknown degree by the influx of storm-eroded sediments off hillslopes and from tributary drainage basins.
A storm on 6 and 7 June 1997, dropped 28 mm of rain on the basin demonstrating the effects of meltwater retention in the snowpack and englacial and subglacial storage early in the melt season. Streamflow before the storm event was increasing gradually owing to warming temperatures; however, discharge during the storm and the following week increased only slightly. Suspended-sediment concentrations increased only a small amount, suggesting the drainage system was not yet well developed, and much of the run off occurred across the relatively clean surface of the glacier or through englacial channels.
Simple theory supports field observations (Lawson and others, 1998 that subGlaciol water flow out of overdeepenings can cause accretion of layered, debris-bearing ice to the bases of glaciers. The large meltwater flux into a temperate glacier at the onset of summer melting can cause rapid water flow through expanded basal cavities or other flow paths. If that flow ascends a sufficiently steep slope out of an overdeepèning, the water will supercool as the pressure-melting point rises, and basal-ice accretion will occur. Diurnal, occasional or annual fluctuations in water discharge will cause variations in accretion rate, debris content of accreted ice or subsequent diagenesis, producing layers. Under appropriate conditions, net accretion of debris-bearing basal ice will allow debris fluxes that are significant in the glacier sediment budget.
Debris-laden ice accretes to the base of Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A., from water that supercools while flowing in a distributed drainage system tip the adverse slope of an overdeepening. Frazil ice grows in the water column and forms aggregates, while other ice grows on the glacier sole or on substrate materials. Sediment is trapped by this growing ice, forming stratified debris-laden basal ice. Growth rates of >0.l ma−1 of debris-rich basal ice are possible. The large sediment fluxes that this mechanism allows may have implications for interpretation of the widespread deposits from ice that flowed through other overdeepenings, including Heinrich events and the till sheets south of the Laurentian Great Lakes.
The stratified-facies ice of the basal zone of Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. U.S.A., contains significant concentrations of anthropogenic tritium, whereas unaltered englacial-zone ice is devoid of tritium. Supercooled water flowing through subglacial conduits during the melt season likewise contains tritium, as does frazil and other platy ice that nucleates and grows within this subglacially flowing water. These initial results demonstrate net accretion of more than 1.4 m of stratified basal-zone ice since initiation of above-ground, thermonuclear bomb testing in 1952. Furthermore, these results support a theory of basal ice formation by ice accretion and debris entrainment from supercooled water within a distributed subglacial drainage system.
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