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Strain-induced phase changes within cold basal ice from Taylor Glacier, Antarctica, indicated by textural and gas analyses

Denis Samyn1, Sean J. Fitzsimons2, Reginald D. Lorrain1

1 Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Départment des Sciences de la Terre et de l'Environnement, Université Libre de Bruxelles, CP 160/03, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium

2 Department of Geography, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand 

 

Abstract

This paper reports detailed textural and gas measurements conducted in cold basal ice (-17°C) from the margin of Taylor Glacier, an outlet glacier of the East Antarctic ice sheet. The analyzed samples were retrieved from a basal ice sequence excavated at the end of a subglacial tunnel dug near the glacier snout. The basal sequence exhibits two contrasting ice facies, defined as the englacial and stratified facies. On the one hand, analysis of ice crystal textures from the basal ice sequence provides evidence for localized ductile deformation, especially within the stratified facies where significant dynamic recystrallization was detected. On the other hand, high-resolution gas analyses reveal that strong changes in gas composition occurred at the structural interfaces of the stratified facies. These gas composition changes are typical of melting-refreezing processes but are not associated with any significant loss of gas volume. Given the specific subglacial thermal conditions at the margin of Taylor Glacier, we interpret this phenomenon as resulting from microscopic phase changes involving selective gas redistribution through the pre-melt phase. It is argued that such processes may play an important role in the post-genetic geochemical evolution of cold debris-laden ice and may be enhanced through intense strain conditions. 

 

Reference 

Samyn, D., Fitzsimons, S. J. and Lorrain, R. D. 2005. Strain-induced phase changes within cold basal ice from Taylor Glacier, Antarctica, indicated by textural and gas analyses. Journal of Glaciology, 51 (175), 611-619. [PDF 463kb]

 

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