Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

An englacial hydrologic system of brine within a cold glacier: Blood Falls, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

  • JESSICA A. BADGELEY (a1), ERIN C. PETTIT (a2), CHRISTINA G. CARR (a2), SLAWEK TULACZYK (a3), JILL A. MIKUCKI (a4), W. BERRY LYONS (a5) and MIDGE Science Team...
Abstract
ABSTRACT

Taylor Glacier hosts an active englacial hydrologic system that feeds Blood Falls, a supraglacial outflow of iron-rich subglacial brine at the terminus, despite mean annual air temperatures of −17°C and limited surface melt. Taylor Glacier is an outlet glacier of the East Antarctic ice sheet that terminates in Lake Bonney, McMurdo Dry Valleys. To image and map the brine feeding Blood Falls, we used radio echo sounding to delineate a subhorizontal zone of englacial brine upstream from Blood Falls and elongated in the ice flow direction. We estimate volumetric brine content in excess of 13% within 2 m of the central axis of this zone, and likely much higher at its center. Brine content decreases, but remains detectable, up to 45 m away along some transects. Hence, we infer a network of subparallel basal crevasses allowing injection of pressurized subglacial brine into the ice. Subglacial brine is routed towards Blood Falls by hydraulic potential gradients associated with deeply incised supraglacial valleys. The brine remains liquid within the subglacial and englacial environments through latent heat of freezing coupled with elevated salt content. Our findings suggest that cold glaciers could support freshwater hydrologic systems through localized warming by latent heat alone.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org 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.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ 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.

      An englacial hydrologic system of brine within a cold glacier: Blood Falls, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
      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 Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      An englacial hydrologic system of brine within a cold glacier: Blood Falls, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
      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 Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      An englacial hydrologic system of brine within a cold glacier: Blood Falls, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Jessica A. Badgeley <badgeley@uw.edu>
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

BE Barrett , T Murray , R Clark and K Matsuoka (2008) Distribution and character of water in a surge-type glacier revealed by multifrequency and multipolarization ground-penetrating radar. J. Geophy. Res., 113(F4), F04011 (doi: 10.1029/2007JF000972)

RG Bingham , PW Nienow , MJ Sharp and S Boon (2005) Subglacial drainage processes at a High Arctic polythermal valley glacier. J. Glaciol., 51(172), 1524 (doi: 10.3189/172756505781829520)

RF Black , ML Jackson and TE Berg (1965) Saline discharge from Taylor Glacier, Victoria Land, Antarctica. J. Geol., 73(1), 175181

S Boon and M Sharp (2003) The role of hydrologically-driven ice fracture in drainage system evolution on an Arctic glacier. Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(18) (doi: 10.1029/2003GL018034)

JD Carmichael , EC Pettit , M Hoffman , A Fountain and B Hallet (2012) Seismic multiplet response triggered by melt at Blood Falls, Taylor Glacier, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 117(F3), F03004 (doi: 10.1029/2011JF002221)

G Catania and C Paola (2001) Braiding under glass. Geology, 29(3), 259262 (doi: 10.1130/0091-7613(2001) 029<0259:BUG> 2.0.CO;2)

JL Davis and AP Annan (1989) Ground-penetrating radar for high resolution mapping of soil and rock stratigraphy. Geophys. Prospect., 37(5), 531551 (doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2478.1989.tb02221.x)

PT Doran , F Kenig , J Lawson Knoepfle , JA Mikucki and WB Lyons (2014) Radiocarbon distribution and the effect of legacy in lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Limnol. Oceanogr., 59(3), 811826 (doi: 10.4319/lo.2014.59.3.0811)

DP Elston and SL Bressler (1981) Magneto-stratigraphic studies in Neogene deposits of Taylor Valley and McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. J. Roy. Soc. New Zeal., 11(4), 481486 (doi: 10.1080/03036758.1981.10423337)

AG Fountain , KJ Lewis and PT Doran (1999a) Spatial climate variation and its control on glacier equilibrium line altitude in Taylor Valley, Antarctica. Global. Planet. Change, 22(1), 110 (doi: 10.1016/S0921-8181(99)00020-X)

AG Fountain and 12 others (1999b) Physical controls on the Taylor Valley ecosystem, Antarctica. BioScience, 49(12), 961971 (doi: 10.1525/bisi.1999.49.12.961)

JT Harper , JH Bradford , NF Humphrey and TW Meierbachtol (2010) Vertical extension of the subglacial drainage system into basal crevasses. Nature, 467, 579582 (doi: 10.1038/nature09398)

SM Higgins , GH Denton and CH Hendy (2000a) Glacial Geomorphology of Bonney drift, Taylor Valley: Antactica. Geogr. Ann. A., 82(2/3), 365389 (doi: 10.1111/j.0435-3676.2000.00129.x)

SM Higgins , CH Hendy and GH Denton (2000b) Geochronology of Bonney Drift, Taylor Valley, Antarctica: evidence for interglacial expansions of Taylor Glacier. Geogr. Ann. A., 82(2/3), 391409 (doi: 10.1111/j.0435-3676.2000.00130.x)

MJ Hoffman , AG Fountain and GE Liston (2008) Surface energy balance and melt thresholds over 11 years at Taylor Glacier, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 113(F4), F04014 (doi: 10.1029/2008JF001029)

A Hubbard W Lawson , B Anderson , B Hubbard and H Blatter (2004) Evidence for subglacial ponding across Taylor Glacier, Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 39(1), 7984 (doi: 10.3189/172756404781813970)

RW Jacobel , K Christianson , AC Wood , KJ DallaSanta and RM Gobel (2014) Morphology of basal crevasses at the grounding zone of Whillans Ice Stream, West Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 55(67), 5763 (doi: 10.3189/2014AoG67A004)

RR Johnston , AG Fountain and TH Nylen (2005) The origin of channels on lower Taylor Glacier, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, and their implication for water runoff. Ann. Glaciol., 40(1), 17 (doi: 10.3189/172756405781813708)

J Kowalski and 36 others (2016) Navigation technology for exploration of glacier ice with maneuverable melting probes. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 123, 5370 (doi: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2015.11.006)

B Lyons and 6 others (2005) Halogen geochemistry of the McMurdo dry valleys lakes, Antarctica: Clues to the origin of solutes and lake evolution. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta., 69(2), 305323 (doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2004.06.040)

YY Macheret , MY Moskalevsky and EV Vasilenko (1993) Velocity of radio waves in glaciers as an indicator of their hydrothermal state, structure and regime. J. Glaciol., 39(132), 373384

JA Mikucki and JC Priscu (2007) Bacterial diversity associated with Blood Falls, a subglacial outflow from the Taylor Glacier, Antarctica. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 73(12), 40294039 (doi: 10.1128/AEM.01396-06)

JA Mikucki , CM Foreman , B Sattler , WB Lyons and JC Priscu (2004) Geomicrobiology of Blood Falls: an iron-rich saline discharge at the terminus of the Taylor Glacier, Antarctica. Aquat Geochem, 10, 199220

JA Mikucki and 8 others (2009) A contemporary microbially maintained subglacial ferrous “ocean”. Science, 324, 397400 (doi: 10.1126/science.1167350)

JA Mikucki and 8 others (2015) Deep groundwater and potential subsurface habitats beneath an Antarctic dry valley. Nat. Commun., 6, 6831 (doi: 10.1038/ncomms7831)

T Murray and 6 others (2000) Glacier surge propagation by thermal evolution at the bed. J. Geophys. Res., 105(B6), 1349113507 (doi: 10.1029/2000JB900066)

EC Pettit , EN Whorton , ED Waddington and RS Sletten (2014) Influence of debris-rich basal ice on flow of a polar glacier. J. Glaciol., 60(223), 9891006 (doi: 10.3189/2014JoG13J161)

PH Robinson (1984) Ice dynamics and thermal regime of Taylor Glacier, South Victoria Land, Antarctica. J. Glaciol., 30(105), 153160

RL Shreve (1972) Movement of water in glaciers. J. Glaciol., 11(62), 205214

BME Smith and S Evans (1972) Radio echo sounding: absorption and scattering by water inclusion and ice lenses. J. Glaciol., 11(61), 133146

DG Tarboton , RL Bras and I Rodriguez–Iturbe (1991) On the extraction of channel networks from digital elevation data. Hydrol. Process., 5, 81100

CJ Van der Veen (1998) Fracture mechanics approach to penetration of bottom crevasses on glaciers. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 27, 213223 (doi: 10.1016/S0165-232X(98)00006-8)

MJ Wolovick , RE Bell , TT Creyts and N Frearson (2013) Identification and control of subglacial water networks under Dome A, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res.-Earth, 118, 140154 (doi: 10.1029/2012JF002555)

AP Wright and 12 others (2012) Evidence of a hydrological connection between the ice divide and ice sheet margin in the Aurora Subglacial Basin, East Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 117(F1), F01033 (doi: 10.1029/2011JF002066)

V Zagorodnov , O Nagornov and LG Thompson (2006) Influence of air temperature on a glacier's active-layer temperature. Ann. Glaciol., 43(1), 285291 (doi: 10.3189/1727564067818122)

Recommend this journal

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

Journal of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0022-1430
  • EISSN: 1727-5652
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1326
Total number of PDF views: 1773 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 23292 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 24th April 2017 - 21st July 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.