New insights into ice accumulation at Galena Creek Rock Glacier from radar imaging of its internal structure

Eric Ivan Petersen, Joseph S. Levy, John W. Holt, Cassie M. Stuurman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The ice-cored Galena Creek Rock Glacier, Wyoming, USA, has been the subject of a number of studies that sought to determine the origin of its ice. We present new observations of the rock glacier's internal structure from ground-penetrating radar to constrain ice and debris distribution and accumulation. We imaged dipping reflectors in the center of the glacier that are weak and discontinuous, in contrast to strong reflectors toward the edge of the cirque beneath large debris-avalanche chutes. These reflectors form a network of concave-up, up-glacier dipping layers. We interpret these as englacial debris bands formed by large debris falls buried by subsequent ice and snow accumulation. They are discontinuous where ice outpaces debris accumulation, but with sufficient debris accumulation an interleaved pattern of ice and debris layers can form. We propose a model in which the ice in these interleaved layers is snowfall preserved by debris-facilitated accumulation. Large debris falls that occur in early spring bury sections of the snowpack, which are then preserved through summer and incorporated into the rock glacier body over time. This study highlights the importance of sequential accumulation of ice and debris for understanding the dynamics of rock glaciers and debris-covered glaciers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Glaciology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • Accumulation
  • debris-covered glaciers
  • glacier geophysics
  • supraglacial debris

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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