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Form, structure and stability of the margin of the Antarctic ice sheet, Vestfold Hills and Bunger Hills, East Antarctica

Sean J. Fitzsimons1 and Eric A. Colhoun2

1 Department of Geography, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
2 Department of Geography, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia

 

Abstract

Studies of glacier margins have suggested that form and structure can be used to infer mass balance condition and stability. This paper examines this idea by investigating the form and structure of the Antarctic ice sheet at two coastal oases in East Anarctica. Two principal forms of the margin of the ice sheet in the Vestfold and Bunger hills that are discussed are ice cliffs and gently-sloping ice margins with an inner moraine. The form of the ice margins in both areas is primarily related to the accumulation of drift snow and superimposed ice and not to mass balance condition. It is concluded that the form and structure of ice margins are ambiguous indicators of mass balance condition and stability and that a change in mass budget is probably neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for a change in the morphology of ice margins. Although we argue that the form and structure of the ice margins tells us little about stability, interpretation of the Holocene history and geomorphology of the oases suggests that the ice margins have been stable at least throughout the Holocene and that this condition of overall stability continues today.

Keywords: ice margin form; ice margin structure; Vestfold Hills; Bunger Hills; East Antarctica.

Reference

Fitzsimons, S.J. and Colhoun, E.A. 1995. Form, structure and stability of the margin of the Antarctic ice sheet, Vestfold Hills and Bunger Hills, East Antarctica. Antarctic Science 7 (2), 171-179. [PDF 1096kb] doi:10.1017/S095410209500023X

 

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