Skip to main content Accessibility help

Seismic emissions from a surging glacier: Bakaninbreen, Svalbard

  • Graham Stuart (a1), Tavi Murray (a1), Alex Brisbourne (a2), Peter Styles (a3) and Sam Toon (a3)...


Bakaninbreen is a polythermal glacier in southern Spitsbergen, Svalbard, which surged between 1985 and 1995. For 9 days in spring 1987, when the surge front was travelling at ∼2.5-3.0 m d–1, three single-component geophones and two accelerometers were deployed in a T-shaped array immediately downstream of the surge front to record seismic emissions. The events were characterized by their waveforms and spectral content. At least three different categories have been identified: impulsive P- and S-waveforms, surface P- and S-wave trains, and harmonic (75-130 Hz) events. We interpret the impulsive events to originate at the base of the glacier, at or downstream of the surge front; the surface P- and S-wave trains from near-surface brittle fracture associated with the surface expression of the surge front itself; and the harmonic events from deep sources that involve resonance in a water-filled fracture, associated with the base of the surge front. We believe the basal events are related to the activation of stagnant ice downstream of the surge front, which allows water to access the bed and provides the mechanism for its propagation.

  • 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.

      Seismic emissions from a surging glacier: Bakaninbreen, Svalbard
      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.

      Seismic emissions from a surging glacier: Bakaninbreen, Svalbard
      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.

      Seismic emissions from a surging glacier: Bakaninbreen, Svalbard
      Available formats



Hide All
Anandakrishnan, S. and Alley, R.B.. 1994. Ice Stream C, Antarctica, sticky spots detected by microearthquake monitoring. Ann. Glaciol., 20, 183186.
Anandakrishnan, S. and Bentley, C.R.. 1993. Micro-earthquakes beneath Ice Streams B and C, West Antarctica: observations and implications. J. Glaciol., 39(133), 455462.
Bishop, I. 1993. Passive microseismic monitoring of a hydrofracture field trial. (PhD thesis, University of Wales.)
Brune, J.N. 1970. Tectonic stress and the spectra of seismic shear waves from earthquakes. J. Geophys. Res., 75(26), 49975009.
Chouet, B. 1986. Dynamics of a fluid-driven crack in three dimensions by the finite difference method. J. Geophys. Res., 92, 13,96713,992.
Chouet, B.A., Page, R.A., Stephens, C.D., Lahr, J.C. and Power, J.A.. 1994. Precursory swarms of long-period events at Redoubt Volcano (1989–1990), Alaska: their origin and use as a forecasting tool. J. Volcan. Geotherm. Res., 62, 95135.
Clarke, G.K.C. 1987. Fast glacier flow: ice streams, surging and tidewater glaciers. J. Geophys. Res., 92(B9), 88358841.
Deichmann, N., Ansorge, J., Scherbaum, F., Aschwanden, A., Bernardi, F. and Gudmundsson, G.H.. 2000. Evidence for deep icequakes in an Alpine glacier. Ann. Glaciol., 31, 8590.
Fowler, A.C., Murray, T. and Ng, F.S.L.. 2001. Thermally controlled glacier surging. J. Glaciol., 47(159), 527538.
Górski, M. 1997. Seismicity of the Hornsund region, Spitsbergen: icequakes and earthquakes. Warsaw, Polska Akademia Nauk. Instytut Geofizyki.
Hambrey, M.J., Dowdeswell, J.A., Murray, T. and Porter, P.R.. 1996. Thrusting and debris entrainment in a surging glacier: Bakaninbreen, Svalbard. Ann. Glaciol., 22, 241248.
Kamb, B. 1987. Glacier surge mechanism based on linked cavity configuration of the basal water conduit system. J. Geophys. Res., 92(B9), 90839100.
Kumagai, H. and Chouet, B.A.. 1999. The complex frequencies of long-period seismic events as probes of fluid composition beneath volcanoes. Geophys. J. Int., 138(2), F7F12.
Lay, T. and Wallace, T.C.. 1995. Modern global seismology. San Diego, CA, Academic Press.
Métaxian, J.-P., Araujo, S., Mora, M. and Lesage, P.. 2003. Seismicity related to the glacier of Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador. Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(9), 1483. (10.1029/2002GL016773.)
Mitra, S. 2002. Structural models of faulted detachment folds. AAPG Bull., 86(9), 16731694.
Murray, T. and Porter, P.R.. 2001. Basal conditions beneath a soft-bedded polythermal surge-type glacier: Bakaninbreen, Svalbard. Quat. Int., 86, 103116.
Murray, T., Gooch, D.L. and Stuart, G.W.. 1997. Structures within the surge front at Bakaninbreen, Svalbard, using ground-penetrating radar. Ann. Glaciol., 24, 122129.
Murray, T., Dowdeswell, J.A., Drewry, D.J. and Frearson, I.. 1998. Geometric evolution and ice dynamics during a surge of Bakaninbreen, Svalbard. J. Glaciol., 44(147), 263272.
Murray, T. and 6 others. 2000. Glacier surge propagation by thermal evolution at the bed. J. Geophys. Res., 105(B6), 13,49113,507.
Murray, T., Strozzi, T., Luckman, A., Jiskoot, H. and Christakos, P.. 2003. Is there a single surge mechanism? Contrasts in dynamics between glacier surges in Svalbard and other regions. J. Geophys. Res., 108(B5), 2237. (10.1029/2002JB001906.)
Neave, K.G. and Savage, J.C.. 1970. Icequakes on the Athabasca Glacier. J. Geophys. Res., 75(8), 13511362.
Paterson, W.S.B. 1994. The physics of glaciers. Third edition. Oxford, etc., Elsevier.
Raymond, C.F. and Malone, S.. 1986. Propagating strain anomalies during mini-surges of Variegated Glacier, Alaska, USA. J. Glaciol., 32(111), 178191.
Raymond, C., Jóhannesson, T., Pfeffer, T. and Sharp, M.. 1987. Propagation of a glacier surge into stagnant ice. J. Geophys. Res., 92(B9), 90379049.
Röthlisberger, H. 1972. Seismic exploration in cold regions. Hanover, NH, US Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. (CRREL Monograph II-A2a.)
Salvigsen, O. and Winsnes, T.S.. 1979. Geological map of Svalbard 1 :100 000, C10G. Braganzavågen. Oslo, Norsk Polarinstitutt.
Smith, A.M., Murray, T., Davison, B.M., Clough, A.F., Woodward, J. and Jiskoot, H.. 2002. Late-surge glacial conditions on Bakaninbreen, Svalbard, and implications for surge termination. J. Geophys. Res., 107(B8), 2152. (10.1029/2001JB000475.)
St. Lawrence, W. and Qamar, A.. 1979. Hydraulic transients: a seismic source in volcanoes and glaciers. Science, 203(4381), 654656.
Tailby, J.W. 1991. Acoustic emissions from the Bakaninbreen glacier, Spitzbergen. (BSc thesis, University of Liverpool.)
Weaver, C.S. and Malone, S.D.. 1979. Seismic evidence for discrete glacier motion at the rock–ice interface. J. Glaciol., 23(89), 171184.
Wolf, L.W. and Davies, J.N.. 1986. Glacier-generated earthquakes from Prince William Sound, Alaska. Bull. Seism. Soc. Am., 76(2), 367379.
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