First Advisor

Christina Hulbe

Date of Publication

Spring 7-23-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Kamb Ice Stream (Antarctica), Subglacial lakes -- Antarctica, Ice mechanics



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 108 pages)


The lateral "corners" where Kamb and Whillans Ice Streams (KIS and WIS) discharge into the Ross Ice Shelf share common geometries and ice mechanical settings. At both corners of the now-stagnant KIS outlet, shear margins of apparently different ages confine regions with a relatively flat, smooth surface expression. These features are called the "Duckfoot" on the northern, right-lateral side and the "Goosefoot" on the other. It has been suggested, on evidence found in ice internal layers, that the flat ice terrains on KIS were afloat in the recent past, at a time when the ice stream grounding line was upstream of its present location. The overdeepening in the bed just upstream of the KIS grounding line supports this view of the past geometry.

The right-lateral margin at the outlet of the currently active WIS, the location of Subglacial Lake Englehardt (SLE), appears to have many similarities with the right lateral margin of KIS, though with a less developed looking inboard margin. This paper presents a mechanical analysis using surface and bed topography and velocity datasets comparing the Duckfoot flat ice terrain with the terrain around Subglacial Lake Englehardt. At both locations mechanical thinning along shear margins and lows in the bed topography redirects basal water routing towards the features. Here, I consider the history of these features and their role in ice stream variability by comparison of the relict and modern features and via numerical modeling of ice shelf grounding and ungrounding in response to variations in ice flow.

We propose two scenarios for the development of flat ice terrains/subglacial lakes at the outlets of ice streams. In the first, development of a lake in the hydraulic potential low along a shear margin forces a margin jump as shearing develops along the inboard shore of the margin lake. This thesis presents evidence for an inboard (relative to the main outboard shear margin) zone of shear along the inboard shoreline of SLE, suggesting that subglacial lakes along shear margins are capable of facilitating shear margin jumps. In the second, grounding line advance around a relative low in the bed, creating adjacent margins along the lakeshores, forms a remnant lake. Discerning which of these scenarios is appropriate at the KIS outlet has implications for understanding the history of the ice stream grounding line.

An ice flow model is used to place these local conditions in a regional context by studying the effect of internal perturbations, such as ice rise stagnation or inward margin jumps, on grounding line position. Bathymetry is important in determining ice stream flow in the ways that might not be otherwise realized in 1-D flow model studies. In the numerical modeling experiments, grounding line advance across the KIS outlet is mediated by the overdeepening in the bed and proceeds not in the direction of ice flow but transverse to flow. This finding adds complexity to both a flowline view of grounding line migration and the theory that grounding lines are unstable in the presence of inward sloping bed topography.


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