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Supraglacial eskers in Antarctica

Sean J. Fitzsimons

Department of Geography and Oceanography, Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia


This paper describes eskers that form at the edge of the ice sheet in the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. Eskers are linear ridges that are deposited by streams constrained by glacier ice. Their formation requires a sediment source and the presence of meltwater capable of thermal erosion and penetration of glacier ice. These requirements mean that eskers are generally associated with temperate glaciers and are not usually associated with cold, polar glaciers. The eskers described in this paper form small ridges of gravel adjacent to ice-cored moraines. The form, orientation, sedimentary properties together with consideration of the field relationships suggests they were formed by supraglacial streams that drain moraine-dammed lakes and recycle sediment deposited on ice-cored moraines. The small size of the eskers combined with the active nature of ice marginal processes in the area means the eskers have a low preservation potential and do not occur beyond the ice margin in the Vestfold Hills.


Fitzsimons, S.J. 1991. Supraglacial eskers in Antarctica. Geomorphology 4 (3-4), 293-286. [PDF 538kb] doi:10.1016/0169-555X(91)90011-X


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