What we know about the bed in front of Thwaites Glacier: existing marine geophysical datasets

Karsten.Gohl [ at ] awi.de


It is becoming increasingly apparent that bathymetry plays a crucial role in determining the behavior of marine-terminating glaciers. This is because variations in the shape of the bed can produce both pinning points where glaciers (or their floating tongues) can ground and stabilize, as well as pathways for warm waters to move across the shelf and access the grounding line. Ahead of the first ITGC field season we present the existing state of knowledge about the bed in front of Thwaites Glacier (TG). We have compiled existing multibeam-bathymetric datasets from the UK, the USA and international partners (Korea, Germany) to produce a high-resolution grid (50-m cells) for the area. From this grid we identify possible pathways for warm Circumpolar Deep Water to the TG grounding line, a topographic high – as shallow as 130 m in places - that likely acted as a pinning point and is less than 18 km from the current eastern ice-shelf margin, and landforms indicative of the past behavior of the glacier (e.g. meltwater channels and basins, streamlined landforms). This exercise also highlights important data gaps to target for surveying in 2019, including for example, the area left vacant by the calving of the B-22 iceberg. Secondly, we explore existing sub-bottom and seismic-reflection profiles from the Amundsen Sea Embayment to investigate the nature of the substrate in front of TG. Unlithified sediment cover is generally thin (<5 m) over scoured crystalline bedrock but thickens to up to 40 m in basins. We discuss potential coring targets close to pathways for warm water incursions, and former stability points including the possibility of unknown basins in front of TG.

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Conference (Talk)
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Event Details
25th Annual WAIS Workshop, 16 Sep 2018 - 19 Sep 2018, Stony Point, NY, USA.
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Hogan, K. , Larter, R. D. , Nitsche, F. O. , Graham, A. G. C. , Wellner, J. , Simkins, L. , Gohl, K. , Arndt, J. E. , Hillenbrand, C. D. , Smith, J. A. , Minzoni, R. , Anderson, J. B. and Hong, J. (2018): What we know about the bed in front of Thwaites Glacier: existing marine geophysical datasets , 25th Annual WAIS Workshop, Stony Point, NY, USA, 16 September 2018 - 19 September 2018 .

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Geographical region

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ANT > XXVI > 3
PS > 104

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