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Basal crevasse formation on Byrd Glacier, East Antarctica, as proxy for past subglacial flooding events
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  • Sarah F Child,
  • Leigh A Stearns,
  • Cornelis J. van der Veen,
  • Pedro Elosegui
Sarah F Child
University of Colorado

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Leigh A Stearns
University of Kansas
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Cornelis J. van der Veen
University of Kansas
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Pedro Elosegui
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Linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) suggests that short-lived flow accelerations, such as the one observed in the 2006 Byrd Glacier, East Antarctica, subglacial flooding event, can initiate abnormally large basal crevasses at the grounding line. Airborne radar measurements acquired in 2011 reveal hundreds of basal crevasses ranging in height ~40—335 m. Particle tracking results show that the formation of the largest basal crevasse occurred at the grounding line during the 2006 flooding event. Very large basal crevasses form distinctive surface depressions directly overhead, which are observed along the Byrd Glacier flowline to the terminus of the Ross Ice Shelf. By using these surface depressions as proxy for abnormally large basal crevasses, we create a timeline of past subglacial flooding events on Byrd Glacier. Understanding the frequency of flooding events and their effect on glacier dynamics will help inform subglacial hydrology models and models of ice sheet stability.
Aug 2021Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 48 issue 15. 10.1029/2020GL090978