Submarine landforms characteristic of glacier surges in two Spitsbergen fjords

D. Ottesen, J. A. Dowdeswell, D. I. Benn, L. Kristensen, H. H. Christiansen, O. Christensen, L. Hansen, E. Lebesbye, M. Forwick, T. O. Vorren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Well-preserved submarine landforms, all less than 100 years old, are imaged on high-resolution swath bathymetry obtained from Van Keulenfjorden and Rindersbukta (inner Van Mijenfjorden), Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Several tidewater glaciers in these fjords have Surged in the last few hundred years. Streamlined landforms, found within the limits of known surges, are interpreted as mega-scale glacial lineations (MSGL) formed subglacially beneath actively surging ice. Large transverse ridges are terminal moraines formed by thrusting at the maximum position of glacier surges. Sediment lobes at the distal margins of terminal moraines are interpreted as glacigenic debris flows, formed either by failure of the frontal slopes of thrust moraines or from deforming sediment extruded from beneath the glacier. Sinuous ridges are eskers, formed after surge termination by the sedimentary infilling of subglacial conduits. Concordant ridges, parallel to former ice margins, are interpreted as minor push moraines, probably formed annually during winter glacier readvance. Discordant ridges, oblique to former ice margins, are interpreted as crevasse-squeeze ridges, forming when soft subglacial sediments are injected into basal crevasses. These submarine landforms have been deposited in the following sequence based on cross-cutting relationships between them, linked to stages of the Surge cycle: (I) MSGL; (2a) terminal moraines and (2b) lobe-shaped debris flows; (3) isolated areas of crevasse-fill ridges; (4) eskers and (5) annual retreat ridges. A descriptive landsystem model for tidewater surge-type glaciers has been developed, whose wider applicability is emphasised by comparison with two areas in Isfjorden, Spitsbergen. The model also has a number of features in common with landsystem models for terrestrial surge-type glaciers, but is likely to be more complete since submarine landforms are particularly well preserved. The landforms discussed here may be produced and preserved in different proportions in the varied environmental settings where surging glaciers are found. (C) 2008 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1583-1599
Number of pages17
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume27
Issue number15-16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008

Keywords

  • SEA-FLOOR MORPHOLOGY
  • MASS-BALANCE
  • STRUCTURAL EVOLUTION
  • TIDEWATER GLACIER
  • SURGING GLACIER
  • PUSH MORAINES
  • SVALBARD
  • DYNAMICS
  • VELOCITY
  • FINSTERWALDERBREEN

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