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Ancient pre-glacial erosion surfaces preserved beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Rose, Kathryn C.; Ross, Neil; Jordan, Tom A.; Bingham, Robert G.; Corr, Hugh F.J.; Ferraccioli, Fausto; Le Brocq, Anne M.; Rippin, David M.; Siegert, Martin J.. 2015 Ancient pre-glacial erosion surfaces preserved beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Earth Surface Dynamics, 3 (1). 139-152. 10.5194/esurfd-2-681-2014

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Abstract/Summary

We present ice-penetrating radar evidence for ancient (pre-glacial) and extensive erosion surfaces preserved beneath the upstream Institute and Möller ice streams, West Antarctica. Radar data reveal a smooth, laterally continuous, gently sloping topographic block, comprising two surfaces separated by a distinct break in slope. The erosion surfaces are preserved in this location due to the collective action of the Pirrit and Martin–Nash hills on ice sheet flow, resulting in a region of slow flowing, cold-based ice downstream of these major topographic barriers. Our analysis reveals that smooth, flat subglacial topography does not always correspond to regions of either present or former fast ice flow, as has previously been assumed. We discuss the potential origins of the erosion surfaces. Erosion rates across the surfaces are currently low, precluding formation via present-day glacial erosion. We suggest that fluvial or marine processes are most likely to have resulted in the formation of these surfaces, but we acknowledge that distinguishing between these processes with certainty requires further data.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.5194/esurfd-2-681-2014
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Antarctic Funding Initiative Projects
BAS Programmes > Polar Science for Planet Earth (2009 - ) > Environmental Change and Evolution
ISSN: 21966311
Date made live: 19 Aug 2014 09:06 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/507490

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