Skip to main content

Joint interpretation of explosive and vibroseismic surveys on cold firn for the investigation of ice properties

  • Anja Diez (a1) (a2), Olaf Eisen (a1) (a3), Coen Hofstede (a1), Pascal Bohleber (a3) and Ulrich Polom (a4)...

Two seismic surveys were carried out on the high-altitude glacier saddle, Colle Gnifetti, Monte Rosa, Italy/Switzerland. Explosive and vibroseismic sources were tested to explore the best way to generate seismic waves to deduce shallow and intermediate properties (<100 m) of firn and ice. The explosive source (SISSY) excites strong surface and diving waves, degrading data quality for processing; no englacial reflections besides the noisy bed reflector are visible. However, the strong diving waves are analyzed to derive the density distribution of the firn pack, yielding results similar to a nearby ice core. The vibrator source (ElViS), used in both P- and SH-wave modes, produces detectable laterally coherent reflections within the firn and ice column. We compare these with ice-core and radar data. The SH-wave data are particularly useful in providing detailed, high-resolution information on firn and ice stratigraphy. Our analyses demonstrate the potential of seismic methods to determine physical properties of firn and ice, particularly density and potentially also crystal-orientation fabric.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Joint interpretation of explosive and vibroseismic surveys on cold firn for the investigation of ice properties
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Joint interpretation of explosive and vibroseismic surveys on cold firn for the investigation of ice properties
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Joint interpretation of explosive and vibroseismic surveys on cold firn for the investigation of ice properties
      Available formats
Hide All
Aki, K and Richards, PG (2002) Quantative seismology, 2nd edn. University Science Books, Sausalito, CA
Albert, DG (1998) Theoretical modeling of seismic noise propagation in firn at the South Pole, Antarctica. Geophys. Res. Lett., 25(23), 42574260 (doi: 10.1029/1998GL900155)
Alean, J, Haeberli, W and Schädler, B (1983) Snow accumulation, firn temperature and solar radiation in the area of the Colle Gnifetti core drilling site (Monte Rosa, Swiss Alps): distribution patterns and interrelationships. Z. Gletscherkd. Glazialgeol., 19(2), 131147
Anandakrishnan, S (2003) Dilatant till layer near the onset of streaming flow of Ice Stream C, West Antarctica, determined by AVO (amplitude vs offset) analysis. Ann. Glaciol., 36, 283286 (doi: 10.3189/172756403781816329)
Bentley, CR (1972) Seismic-wave velocities in anisotropic ice: a comparison of measured and calculated values in and around the deep drill hole at Byrd Station, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 77(23), 44064420 (doi: 10.1029/JB077i023p04406)
Blankenship, DD and Bentley, CR (1987) The crystalline fabric of polar ice sheets inferred from seismic anisotropy. IAHS Publ. 170 (Symposium at Vancouver 1987 – The Physical Basis of Ice Sheet Modelling), 1728
Bohleber, P (2011) Ground-penetrating radar assisted ice core research: the challenge of Alpine glaciers and dielectric ice properties. (PhD thesis, University of Heidelberg)
Booth, AD, Clark, RA, Kulessa, B, Murray, T and Hubbard, A (2012) Thin-layer effects in glaciological seismic amplitude-versus-angle (AVA) analysis: implications for characterising a subglacial till unit, Russell Glacier, West Greenland. Cryos. Discuss., 6(1), 759792 (doi: 10.5194/tcd-6-759-2012)
Cuffey, KM and Paterson, WSB (2010) The physics of glaciers, 4th edn. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford
Dowdeswell, JA and Evans, S (2004) Investigations of the form and flow of ice sheets and glaciers using radio-echo sounding. Rep. Progr. Phys., 67(10), 18211861 (doi: 10.1088/0034-4885/67/10/R03)
Druivenga, G and Fibranz, J (2006) Seismisches Impulsgerät. Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt DE19509122A1
Druivenga, G, Grossmann, E, Grüneberg, S, Polom, U and Rode, W (2011) Transportabler Scherwellenvibrator. Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt DE10327757A1
Eisen, O, Nixdorf, U, Keck, L and Wagenbach, D (2003) Alpine ice cores and ground penetrating radar: combined investigations for glaciological and climatic interpretations of a cold Alpine ice body. Tellus B, 55(5), 10071017 (doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0889.2003.00080.x)
Eisen, O, Hamann, I, Kipfstuhl, S, Steinhage, D and Wilhelms, F (2007) Direct evidence for continuous radar reflector originating from changes in crystal-orientation fabric. Cryosphere, 1(1), 110
Eisen, O and 6 others (2010) A new approach for exploring ice sheets and sub-ice geology. Eos, 91(46), 429430 (doi: 10.1029/2010EO460001)
Eisen, O, Diez, A, Hofstede, C, Lambrecht, A, Mayer, C and Miller, H (2012) Performance of light vibroseis sources on polar firn. Geophys. Res. Abstr., 14, EGU2012-1383
Etris, EL, Crabtree, NJ, Dewar, J and Pickford, S (2001) True depth conversion: more than a pretty picture. CSEG Recorder, 26(9), 1122
Faber, K and Maxwell, PW (1997) Geophone spurious frequency: what is it and how does it affect seismic data quality? Can. J. Explor. Geophys., 33(1/2), 46-54
Fujita, S, Maeno, H and Matsuoka, K (2006) Radio-wave depolarization and scattering within ice sheets: a matrix-based model to link radar and ice-core measurements and its application. J. Glaciol., 52(178), 407424 (doi: 10.3189/172756506781828548)
Gabrieli, J and 10 others (2011) Contamination of Alpine snow and ice at Colle Gnifetti, Swiss/Italian Alps, from nuclear weapons tests. Atmos. Environ., 45(3), 587593 (doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv. 2010.10.039)
Gusmeroli, A, Clark, RA, Murray, T, Booth, AD, Kulessa, B and Barrett, BE (2010) Seismic wave attenuation in the uppermost glacier ice of Storglaciaren, Sweden. J. Glaciol., 56(196), 249-256 (doi: 10.3189/002214310791968485)
Haeberli, W and Alean, J (1985) Temperature and accumulation of high altitude firn in the Alps. Ann. Glaciol., 6, 161-163
Haeberli, W, Schmid, W and Wagenbach, D (1988) On the geometry, flow and age of firn and iceattheColle Gnifetti core drilling site (Monte Rosa, Swiss Alps). Z Gletscherkd. Glazialgeol., 24(1), 1-19
Hatton, L, Worthington, MH and Makin, J (1986) Seismic data processing: theory and practice. Blackwell Scientific, Oxford
Hoelzle, M, Darms, G, Luthi, MP and Suter, S (2011) Evidence of accelerated englacial warming in the Monte Rosa area, Switzerland/Italy. Cryosphere, 5(1), 231-243 (doi: 10.5194/tc-5-231-2011)
Hofstede, C and 6 others (2013) Investigating englacial reflections with vibro- and explosive-seismics surveys at Halvfarryggen ice dome, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 54(64), 189-200 (doi: 10.3189/2012AoG64A064)
Horgan, HJ and 6 others (2008) Complex fabric development revealed by englacial seismic reflectivity: Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35(10), L10501 (doi: 10.1029/2008GL033712)
Horgan, HJ, Anandakrishnan, S, Alley, RB, Burkett, PG and Peters, LE (2011) Englacial seismic reflectivity: imaging crystal-orientation fabric in West Antarctica. J. Glaciol., 57(204), 639-650 (doi: 10.3189/002214311797409686)
Johansen, TA, Ruud, BE, Bakke, NE, Riste, P, Johannessen, EP and Henningsen, T (2011) Seismic profiling on Arctic glaciers. First Break, 29(2), 65-71
King, EC and Jarvis, EP (2007) Use of shear waves to measure Poisson’s ratio in polar firn. J. Environ. Eng. Geophys., 12(1), 15-21 (doi: 10.2113/JEEG12.1.15)
King, EC, Jarvis, EP and Mowse, EA (1993) Seismic characteristics of an airgun fired over snow. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 21(2), 201207 (doi: 10.1016/0165-232X(93)90008-V)
King, EC, Woodward, JM and Smith, AM (2004) Seismic evidence for a water-filled canal in deforming till beneath Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica. Geophys. Res. Lett, 31(20), L20401 (doi: 10.1029/2004GL020379)
Kirchner, JF and Bentley, CR (1990) RIGGS III: seismic short-refraction studies using an analytical curve- fitting technique. In Bentley, CR and Hayes, DE eds. The Ross Ice Shelf: glaciology and geophysics. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, 109-126
Kohnen, H (1972) Uber die Beziehung zwischen seismischen Geschwindigkeiten und der Dichte in Firn und Eis. Z Geophys., 38(5), 925-935
Kohnen, H (1974) The temperature dependence of seismic waves in ice. J. Glaciol., 13(67), 144-147
Konrad, H, Bohleber, P, Wagenbach, D, Vincent, C and Eisen, O (2013) Determining the age distribution of Colle Gnifetti, Monte Rosa, Swiss Alps, by combining ice cores, ground-penetrating radar and a simple flow model. J. Glaciol., 59(213), 179-189 (doi: 10.3189/2013JoG12J072)
Luthi, MP (2000) Rheology of cold firn and dynamics of a polythermal ice stream: studies on Colle Gnifetti and Jakobs-havns Isbrae. Mitt. VAW/ETH 165.
Matsuoka, K, Wilen, L, Hurley, SP and Raymond, CF (2009) Effects of birefringence within ice sheets on obliquely propagating radio waves. IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sens., 475(5), 1429-1443 (doi: 10.1109/TGRS.2008.2005201)
Navarro, FJ and Eisen, O (2009) Ground-penetrating radar in glaciological applications. In Pellikka, P and Rees, WG eds. Remote sensing of glaciers: techniques for topographic, spatial and thematic mapping of glaciers. Taylor and Francis, London, 195229
Peters, LE, Anandakrishnan, S, Alley, RB and Smith, AM (2007) Extensive storage of basal meltwater in the onset region of a major West Antarctic ice stream. Geology, 35(3), 251254 (doi: 10.1007/s003820050271)
Peters, LE, Anandakrishnan, S, Holland, CW, Horgan, H, Blankenship, DD and Voigt, DE (2008) Seismic detection of a subglacial lake near the South Pole, Antarctica. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35(23), L23501 (doi: 10.1029/2008GL035704)
Peters, LE, Anandakrishnan, S, Alley, RB and Voigt, DE (2012) Seismic attenuation in glacial ice: a proxy for englacial temperature. J. Geophys. Res., 117(F2), F02008 (doi: 10.1029/2011JF002201)
Plewes, LA and Hubbard, B (2001) A review of the use of radio-echo sounding in glaciology. Progr. Phys. Geogr., 25(2), 203236 (doi: 10.1177/030913330102500203)
Polom, U, Hofstede, C, Diez, A and Eisen, O (in press) First glaciervibroseismic experiment-results from the cold firn of Colle Gnifetti. Near Surf. Geophys. (doi: 10.3997/1873-0604. 2013040)
Robin, GdeQ (1958) Glaciology III. Seismic shooting and related investigations. Norwegian–British–Swedish Antarctic Expedition, 1949–52, Scientific Results 5. Norsk Polarinstitutt, Oslo
Schotterer, U, Haeberli, W, Good, W, Oeschger, H and Röthlisberger, H (1978) Datierung von kaltem Firn und Eis in einem Bohrkern vom Colle Gnifetti, Monte Rosa. In Kasser, P ed. Jahrbuch der Schweizerischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft, Wissenschaftlicher Teil 1978. (Annuaire de la Société Helvétique des Sciences Naturelles. Partie scientifique et administrative 158) Birkhäuser, Basel, 4857
Schwerzmann, AA (2006) Borehole analyses and flow modeling of firn-covered cold glaciers. (PhD thesis, ETH Zürich)
Sen, V, Stoffa, PL, Dalziel, IWD, Blankenship, D, Smith, AM and Anandakrishnan, S (1998) Seismic surveys in central West Antarctica: data and processing examples from the ANTALITH field tests (1994–1995). Terra Antart., 5(4), 761772
Shumskiy, PA (1964) Principles of structural glaciology. Dover Publications, New York
Slichter, LB (1932) The theory of the interpretation of seismic travel-time curves in horizontal structures. Physics, 3(6), 273 (doi: 10.1063/1.1745133)
Smith, AM (1997) Basal conditions on Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica, from seismic observations. J. Geophys. Res., 102(B1), 543552 (doi: 10.1029/96JB02933)
Smith, AM and Murray, T (2009) Bedform topography and basal conditions beneath a fast-flowing West Antarctic ice stream. Quat. Sci. Rev., 28(7–8), 584596 (doi: 10.1016/j.quascir-ev.2008.05.010)
Wagenbach, D, Münnich, KO, Schotterer, U and Oeschger, H (1988) The anthropogenic impact on snow chemistry at Colle Gnifetti, Swiss Alps. Ann. Glaciol., 10, 183187
Wagenbach, D and others (1997) Retrospective and present state of anthropogenic aerosol deposition at a high Alpine glacier (Colle Gnifetti, 4450 m a.s.l.). In Fuzzi, S and Wagenbach, D eds. Cloud multi-phase processes and high Alpine air and snow chemistry. Springer, Berlin, 223233
Wagner, S (1996) Dreidimensionale Modellierung zweier Gletscher und Deformationsanalyse von eisreichem Permafrost. Mitt. Versuchsanst. Wasserb. ETH Zürich 146. VAW/ETH-Zürich, Zürich
Wilhelms, F (1996) Leitfähigkeits- und Dichtemessung an Eisbohr-kernen. Ber. Polarforsch/Rep. Pol. Res. 191
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed