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Shallow seismic surveys and ice thickness estimates of the Mullins Valley debris-covered glacier, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

  • David E. Shean (a1), James W. Head (a1) and David R. Marchant (a2)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0954102007000624
  • Published online: 16 August 2007
Abstract
Abstract

Several debris-covered glaciers occupy tributaries of upper Beacon Valley, Antarctica. Understanding their flow dynamics and ice thickness is important for palaeoclimate studies and for understanding the origins of ancient ice elsewhere in the McMurdo Dry Valleys region. We present the results of several shallow seismic surveys in Mullins Valley, where the largest of these debris-covered glaciers is located. Our results suggest that beneath a thin sublimation till and near-surface horizon of dirty glacier ice, lies relatively pure glacier ice (P-wave velocity ~3700–3800 m s-1), with total thickness estimates of ~90–95 m towards the valley head, and ~40–65 m near the entrance to Beacon Valley, ~2.5 km downglacier. P-wave velocities decrease downvalley, suggesting that the material properties of the ice change with increasing distance from the ice-accumulation zone. These new data are used to calibrate an ice thickness profile for the active portion of the Mullins Valley debris-covered glacier (upper ~3.5 km) and to shed light on the origin and spatial distribution of enclosed debris.

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*dshean@bu.edu, David_Shean@alumni.brown.edu
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