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Structural provinces of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica

  • Christine M. LeDoux (a1), Christina L. Hulbe (a2), Martin P. Forbes (a2), Ted A. Scambos (a3) and Karen Alley (a3)...


The surface of the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) is textured by flow stripes, crevasses and other features related to ice flow and deformation. Here, moderate resolution optical satellite images are used to map and classify regions of the RIS characterized by different surface textures. Because the textures arise from ice deformation, the map is used to identify structural provinces with common deformation history. We classify four province types: regions associated with large outlet glaciers, shear zones, extension downstream of obstacles and suture zones between provinces with different upstream sources. Adjacent provinces with contrasting histories are in some locations deforming at different rates, suggesting that our province map is also an ice fabric map. Structural provinces have more complicated shapes in the part of the ice shelf fed by West Antarctic ice streams than in the part fed by outlet glaciers from the Transantarctic Mountains. The map may be used to infer past variations in stress conditions and flow events that cannot be inferred from flow traces alone.

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