Skip to main content

Sonic methods for measuring crystal orientation fabric in ice, and results from the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) Divide


We describe methods for measuring crystal orientation fabric with sonic waves in an ice core borehole, with special attention paid to vertical-girdle fabrics that are prevalent at the WAIS Divide. The speed of vertically propagating compressional waves in ice is influenced by vertical clustering of the ice crystal c-axes. Shear-wave speeds – particularly the speed separation between fast and slow shear polarizations – are sensitive to azimuthal anisotropy. Sonic data from the WAIS Divide complement thin-section measurements of fabric. Thin sections show a steady transition to strong girdle fabrics in the upper 2000 m of ice, followed by a transition to vertical-pole fabrics below 2500 m depth. Compressional-wave sonic data are inconclusive in the upper ice, due to noise, as well as the method's inherent insensitivity to girdle fabrics. Compared with available thin sections, sonic data provide better resolution of the transition to pole fabrics below 2500 m, notably including an abrupt increase in vertical clustering near 3000 m. Our compressional-wave measurements resolve fabric changes occurring over depth ranges of a few meters that cannot be inferred from available thin sections, but are sensitive only to zenithal anisotropy. Future logging tools should be designed to measure shear waves in addition to compressional waves, especially for logging in regions where ice flow patterns favor the development of girdle fabrics.

  • 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.

      Sonic methods for measuring crystal orientation fabric in ice, and results from the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) Divide
      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.

      Sonic methods for measuring crystal orientation fabric in ice, and results from the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) Divide
      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.

      Sonic methods for measuring crystal orientation fabric in ice, and results from the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) Divide
      Available formats
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Dan Kluskiewicz <,>
Hide All
Aki, K and Richards, P (1980) Quantitative seismology: theory and methods. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco
Albert, M (2015) Firn Permeability and Density at WAIS Divide. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Alley, R (1988) Fabrics in polar ice sheets: development and prediction. Science, 240(4851), 493495
Alley, RB and 5 others (1997) Grain-scale processes, folding, and stratigraphic disturbance in the GISP2 ice core. J. Geophys. Res.: Oceans, 102(C12), 2681926830 (doi: 10.1029/96JC03836)
Anandakrishnan, S, Fitzpatrick, JJ and Alley, RB (1994) Shear-wave detection of asymmetric c-axis fabrics in the GISP2 ice core, Greenland. J. Glaciol., 40(136), 491496
Azuma, N (1994) A flow law for anisotropic ice and its application to ice sheets. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 128(3), 601614 (doi: 10.1016/0012-821X(94)90173-2)
Azuma, N and 6 others (1999) Textures and fabrics in the Dome F (Antarctica) ice core. Ann. Glaciol., 29(1), 163168 (doi: 10.3189/172756499781821148)
Bennett, HF (1968) An investigation into velocity anisotropy through measurements of ultrasonic wave velocities in snow and ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. (PhD thesis, University of Wisconsin, [Madison])
Bentley, CR (1971) Seismic anisotropy in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. In Crary, AP ed., Antarctic snow and ice Studies II. American Geophysical Union Washington, D.C., 131177
Bentley, CR (1972) Seismic-wave velocities in anisotropic ice: a comparison of measured and calculated values in and around the deep drill hole at Byrd Station, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 77(23), 44064420 (doi: 10.1029/JB077i023p04406)
Castelnau, O and 7 others (1998) Anisotropic behavior of GRIP ices and flow in Central Greenland. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 154(14), 307322 (doi: 10.1016/S0012-821X(97)00193-3)
Conway, H and Rasmussen, LA (2009) Recent thinning and migration of the Western Divide, central West Antarctica. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36(12), L12502 (doi: 10.1029/2009GL038072)
Crain, E (2004) How many acoustic waves can dance on the head of a sonic log? InSite, CWLS Newsletter, April 2004, 1016
Cuffey, KM and Clow, GD (2014) Temperature Profile of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Deep Borehole. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Duval, P and Lorius, C (1980) Crystal size and climatic record down to the last ice age from Antarctic ice. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 48(1), 5964 (doi: 10.1016/0012-821X(80)90170-3)
Duval, P, Ashby, MF and Anderman, I (1983) Rate-controlling processes in the creep of polycrystalline ice. J. Phys. Chem., 87(21), 40664074 (doi: 10.1021/j100244a014)
Fitzpatrick, JJ and 11 others (2014) Physical properties of the WAIS Divide ice core. J. Glaciol., 60(224), 11811198 (doi: 10.3189/2014JoG14J100)
Fletcher, N (1970) The chemical physics of ice. Cambridge University Press, Ney York
Fujita, S, Maeno, H and Matsuoka, K (2006) Radio-wave depolarization and scattering within ice sheets: a matrix-based model to link radar and ice-core measurements and its application. J. Glaciol., 52(178), 407424 (doi: 10.3189/172756506781828548)
Gagliardini, O, Durand, G and Wang, Y (2004) Grain area as a statistical weight for polycrystal constituents. J. Glaciol., 50(168), 8795 (doi: 10.3189/172756504781830349)
Gagliardini, O, Gillet-Chaulet, F and Montagnat, M (2009) A review of anisotropic polar ice models: from crystal to ice-sheet flow models. ResearchGate, 68, 149166
Gow, AJ and Williamson, T (1976) Rheological implications of the internal structure and crystal fabrics of the West Antarctic ice sheet as revealed by deep core drilling at Byrd Station. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 87(12), 16665–1677 (doi: 10.1130/0016-7606(1976)872.0.CO;2)
Gow, AJ and 6 others (1997) Physical and structural properties of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 ice core: a review. J. Geophys. Res.: Oceans, 102(C12), 2655926575 (doi: 10.1029/97JC00165)
Gusmeroli, A, Pettit, EC, Kennedy, JH and Ritz, C (2012) The crystal fabric of ice from full-waveform bore-hole sonic logging. J. Geophys. Res.: Earth Surf., 117(F3), F03021 (doi: 10.1029/2012JF002343)
Haldorsen, JBU and 5 others (2006) Borehole acoustic waves. Oilfield Rev., 18(1) (Spring)
Helgerud, MB, Waite, WF, Kirby, SH and Nur, A (2009) Elastic wave speeds and moduli in polycrystalline ice Ih, sI methane hydrate, and sII methaneethane hydrate. J. Geophys. Res.: Solid Earth, 114(B2) (doi: 10.1029/2008JB006132)
Herron, SL and Langway, CC (1982) A comparison of ice fabrics and textures at camp century, Greenland, and Byrd Station, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 3(1), 982
Hill, R (1952) The elastic behaviour of a crystalline aggregate. Proc. Phys. Soc. Sec. A, 65(5), 349 (doi: 10.1088/0370-1298/65/5/307)
Horgan, HJ, Anandakrishnan, S, Alley, RB, Burkett, PG and Peters, LE (2011) Englacial seismic reactivity: imaging crystal-orientation fabric in West Antarctica. J. Glaciol., 57(204), 639650
Kohnen, H and Gow, AJ (1979) Ultrasonic velocity investigations of crystal anisotropy in deep ice cores from Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res.: Oceans, 84(C8), 48654874 (doi: 10.1029/JC084iC08p04865)
Lipenkov, VY, Barkov, NI, Dural, P and Pimenta, P (1989) Crystalline texture of the 2083 m ice core at Vostok Station, Antarctica. J. Glaciol, 35
Liu, H, Jezek, K, Li, B and Zhao, Z (2001) Radarsat Antarctic mapping project digital elevation model version 2. National Snow and Ice Data Center. Digital media, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Lliboutry, L (1993) Anisotropic, transversely isotropic nonlinear viscosity of rock ice and rheological parameters inferred from homogenization. Int. J. Plasticity, 9(5), 619632 (doi: 10.1016/0749-6419(93)90023-J)
Luo, S and Hale, D (2012) Velocity analysis using weighted semblance. Geophysics, 77(2), U15U22 (doi: 10.1190/geo2011-0034.1)
Mangeney, A, Califano, F and Hutter, K (1997) A numerical study of anisotropic, low Reynolds number, free surface flow for ice sheet modeling. J. Geophys. Res.: Solid Earth, 102(B10), 2274922764 (doi: 10.1029/97JB01697)
Martin, C, Gudmundsson, GH, Pritchard, HD and Gagliardini, O (2009) On the effects of anisotropic rheology on ice flow, internal structure, and the age-depth relationship at ice divides. J. Geophys. Res.: Earth Surf., 114(F4), F04001 (doi: 10.1029/2008JF001204)
Mase, G and Mase, G (1999) Continuum mechanics for engineers. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla.
Matsuoka, K and 6 others (2003) Crystal orientation fabrics within the Antarctic ice sheet revealed by a multipolarization plane and dual-frequency radar survey. J. Geophys. Res.: Solid Earth, 108(B10), 2499 (doi: 10.1029/2003JB002425)
Matsuoka, K, Power, D, Fujita, S and Raymond, C (2012) Rapid development of anisotropic ice-crystal-alignment fabrics inferred from englacial radar polarimetry, central West Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res.: Earth Surf., 117(F3), F03029 (doi: 10.1029/2012JF002440)
Morse, DL, Blankenship, DD, Waddington, ED and Neumann, TA (2002) A site for deep ice coring in West Antarctica: results from aerogeophysical surveys and thermokinematic modeling. Ann. Glaciol., 35(1), 3644 (doi: 10.3189/172756402781816636)
Paillet, F and Saunders, W (eds.) (1990) Geophysical applications for geotechnical investigations. ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, PO Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959
Pettit, E, Thorsteinsson, T, Jacobson, P and Waddington, E (2007) The role of crystal fabric in flow near an ice divide. J. Glaciol., 53(181), 277288 (doi: 10.3189/172756507782202766)
Seddik, H, Greve, R, Placidi, L, Hamann, I and Gagliardini, O (2008) Application of a continuum-mechanical model for the flow of anisotropic polar ice to the EDML core, Antarctica. J. Glaciol., 54(187), 631642
Sinha, B, Norris, A and Chang, S (1994) Borehole flexural modes in anisotropic formations. Geophysics, 59(7), 10371052 (doi: 10.1190/1.1443660)
Slawny, KR and 7 others (2014) Production drilling at WAIS Divide. Ann. Glaciol., 55(68), 147155 (doi: 10.3189/2014AoG68A018)
Spetzler, J and Snieder, R (2004) The Fresnel volume and transmitted waves. Geophysics, 69(3), 653663 ISSN 0016-8033, 1942-2156 (doi: 10.1190/1.1759451)
Thorsteinsson, T and Waddington, E (2002) Folding in strongly anisotropic layers near ice-sheet centers. Ann. Glaciol., 35(1), 480486 (doi: 10.3189/172756402781816708)
Thorsteinsson, T, Kipfstuhl, J and Miller, H (1997) Textures and fabrics in the GRIP ice core. J. Geophys. Res.: Oceans (19782012), 102(C12), 2658326599
Vaughan, D and Arthern, R (2007) Why is it hard to predict the future of ice sheets? Science, 315(5818), 15031504 (doi: 10.1126/science.1141111)
Waddington, E, Bolzan, J and Alley, R (2001) Potential for stratigraphic folding near ice-sheet centers. J. Glaciol., 47(159), 639648 (doi: 10.3189/172756501781831756)
Waddington, E, Neumann, T, Koutnik, M, Marshall, H and Morse, D (2007) Inference of accumulation-rate patterns from deep layers in glaciers and ice sheets. J. Glaciol., 53(183), 694712
WAIS Community Members (2013) Onset of deglacial warming in West Antarctica driven by local orbital forcing. Nature, 500(7463), 440444 (doi: 10.1038/nature12376)
Wang, Y and 5 others (2002) A vertical girdle fabric in the North-GRIP deep ice core, North Greenland. Ann. Glaciol., 35(1), 515520 (doi: 10.3189/172756402781817301)
Wilen, LA (2000) A new technique for ice-fabric analysis. J. Glaciol., 46(152), 122139
Woodcock, NH (1977) Specification of fabric shapes using an eigenvalue method. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 88(9), 12311236
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? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 27
Total number of PDF views: 142 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 297 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 26th April 2017 - 22nd April 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.