Freezing of ridges and water networks preserves the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains for millions of years

Creyts, Timothy T.; Ferraccioli, Fausto ORCID:; Bell, Robin E.; Wolovick, Michael; Corr, Hugh; Rose, Kathryn C.; Frearson, Nicholas; Damaske, Detlef; Jordan, Tom ORCID:; Braaten, David; Finn, Carol. 2014 Freezing of ridges and water networks preserves the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains for millions of years. Geophysical Research Letters, 41 (22). 8114-8122.

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Once an ice sheet grows beyond a critical thickness, the basal thermal regime favors melting and development of subglacial water networks. Subglacial water is necessary for bedrock erosion, but the exact mechanisms that lead to preservation of subglacial topography are unclear. Here we resolve the freezing mechanisms that lead to long-term, high-altitude preservation across the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains in East Antarctica. Analyses of a comprehensive geophysical data set reveal a large-scale water network along valley floors. The ice sheet often drives subglacial water up steep topography where it freezes along high ridges beneath thinner ice. Statistical tests of hypsometry show the Gamburtsevs resemble younger midlatitude mountains, indicating exceptional preservation. We conclude that the Gamburtsevs have been shielded from erosion since the latest Eocene (∼34 Ma). These freezing mechanisms likely account for the spatial and temporal patterns of erosion and preservation seen in other glaciated mountain ranges.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Polar Science for Planet Earth (2009 - ) > Environmental Change and Evolution
ISSN: 0094-8276
Additional Keywords: glaciology, Antarctica, ice sheet, freezing
Date made live: 20 Jan 2015 09:29 +0 (UTC)

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