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Theses Doctoral

Basal Dynamics and Internal Structure of Ice Sheets

Wolovick, Michael Joseph

The internal structure of ice sheets reflects the history of flow and deformation experienced by the ice mass. Flow and deformation are controlled by processes occurring within the ice mass and at its boundaries, including surface accumulation or ablation, ice rheology, basal topography, basal sliding, and basal melting or freezing. The internal structure and basal environment of ice sheets is studied with ice-penetrating radar. Recently, radar observations in Greenland and Antarctica have imaged large englacial structures rising from near the bed that deform the overlying stratigraphy into anticlines, synclines, and overturned folds. The mechanisms that may produce these structures include basal freeze-on, travelling slippery patches at the ice base, and rheological contrasts within the ice column.
In this thesis, I explore the setting and mechanisms that produce large basal stratigraphic structures inside ice sheets. First, I use radar data to map subglacial hydrologic networks that deliver meltwater uphill towards freeze-on structures in East Antarctica. Next, I use a thermomechanical flowline model to demonstrate that trains of alternating slippery and sticky patches can form underneath ice sheets and travel downstream over time. The disturbances to the ice flow field produced by these travelling patches produce stratigraphic folds resembling the observations. I then examine the overturned folds produced by a single travelling sticky patch using a kinematic flowline model. This model is used to interpret
stratigraphic measurements in terms of the dynamic properties of basal slip. Finally, I use a simple local one-dimensional model to estimate the thickness of basal freeze-on that can be produced based on the supply of available meltwater, the thermal boundary conditions, ice sheet geometry, and the ice flow regime.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Bell, Robin E.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
December 18, 2015
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