Antarctic subglacial groundwater: a concept paper on its measurement and potential influence on ice flow

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Title: Antarctic subglacial groundwater: a concept paper on its measurement and potential influence on ice flow
Author(s): Siegert, MJ
Kulessa, B
Bougamont, M
Christoffersen, P
Key, K
Andersen, K
Booth, AD
Smith, AM
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Is groundwater abundant in Antarctica and does it modulate ice flow? Answering this question matters because ice streams flow by gliding over a wet substrate of till. Water fed to ice-stream beds thus influences ice-sheet dynamics and, potentially, sea-level rise. It is recognised that both till and the sedimentary basins from which it originates are porous and could host a reservoir of mobile groundwater that interacts with the subglacial interfacial system. According to recent numerical modelling up to half of all water available for basal lubrication, and time lags between hydrological forcing and ice-sheet response as long as millennia, may have been overlooked in models of ice flow. Here, we review evidence in support of Antarctic groundwater and propose how it can be measured to ascertain the extent to which it modulates ice flow. We present new seismoelectric soundings of subglacial till, and magnetotelluric and transient electromagnetic forward models of subglacial groundwater reservoirs. We demonstrate that multi-facetted and integrated geophysical datasets can detect, delineate and quantify the groundwater contents of subglacial sedimentary basins and, potentially, monitor groundwater exchange rates between subglacial till layers. The paper thus describes a new area of glaciological investigation and how it should progress in future.
Publication Date: 25-May-2017
Date of Acceptance: 14-Feb-2017
ISSN: 0305-8719
Publisher: Geological Society
Journal / Book Title: Special Publication - Geological Society of London
Volume: Special Publications
Sponsor/Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
British Council (UK)
Funder's Grant Number: NE/G00465X/3
Copyright Statement: © 2017 The Author(s). Published by The Geological Society of London Gold Open Access: This article is published under the terms of the CC-BY 3.0 license.
Keywords: 04 Earth Sciences
Geochemistry & Geophysics
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 461
Open Access location:
Appears in Collections:Centre for Environmental Policy
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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