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Buried ice in Kennar Valley: a late Pleistocene remnant of Taylor Glacier

  • Kate M. Swanger (a1)


Buried glacier ice is common in the McMurdo Dry Valleys and under ideal climatic and geomorphological conditions may be preserved for multimillion-year timescales. This study focuses on the analysis of ~300 m2 of buried glacier ice in lower Kennar Valley, Quartermain Range. The mapped ice is clean,<10 m thick and covered by a~25 cm sandy drift. The mouth of Kennar Valley is occupied by a lobe of Taylor Glacier, an outlet glacier from Taylor Dome. Based on ice–sediment characteristics, air bubble concentrations and stable isotopic analyses from three ice cores, the lower Kennar Valley ice is glacial in origin. These data coupled with a previously reported exposure age chronology indicate that the buried ice was deposited by a late Pleistocene advance of Taylor Glacier, probably during an interglacial interval. The surface of the buried glacier ice exhibits a patterned ground morphology characterized by small, dome-shaped polygons with deep troughs. This shape possibly reflects the final stages of ice loss, as stagnant, isolated ice pinnacles sublimate in place. This study highlights how polygon morphology can be used to infer the thickness of clean buried ice and its geomorphological stability throughout Antarctica, as well as other in cold, arid landscapes.

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Buried ice in Kennar Valley: a late Pleistocene remnant of Taylor Glacier

  • Kate M. Swanger (a1)


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