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Anatomy of a meltwater drainage system beneath the ancestral East Antarctic ice sheet
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Geological Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3048-7916
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Number of Authors: 9
2017 (English)In: Nature Geoscience, ISSN 1752-0894, E-ISSN 1752-0908, Vol. 10, no 9, 691-697 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Subglacial hydrology is critical to understand the behaviour of ice sheets, yet active meltwater drainage beneath contemporary ice sheets is rarely accessible to direct observation. Using geophysical and sedimentological data from the deglaciated western Ross Sea, we identify a palaeo-subglacial hydrological system active beneath an area formerly covered by the East Antarctic ice sheet. A long channel network repeatedly delivered meltwater to an ice stream grounding line and was a persistent pathway for episodic meltwater drainage events. Embayments within grounding-line landforms coincide with the location of subglacial channels, marking reduced sedimentation and restricted landform growth. Consequently, channelized drainage at the grounding line influenced the degree to which these landforms could provide stability feedbacks to the ice stream. The channel network was connected to upstream subglacial lakes in an area of geologically recent rifting and volcanism, where elevated heat flux would have produced sufficient basal melting to fill the lakes over decades to several centuries; this timescale is consistent with our estimates of the frequency of drainage events at the retreating grounding line. Based on these data, we hypothesize that ice stream dynamics in this region were sensitive to the underlying hydrological system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 10, no 9, 691-697 p.
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-147898DOI: 10.1038/NGEO3012ISI: 000409229600018OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-147898DiVA: diva2:1150890
Available from: 2017-10-20 Created: 2017-10-20 Last updated: 2017-10-20Bibliographically approved

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