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Tidal bending and strand cracks at the Kamb Ice Stream grounding line, West Antarctica


An extensive set of shore-parallel fractures are observed at the grounding line of Kamb Ice Stream (KIS) in West Antarctica. Seismicity measured in the grounding zone is, as elsewhere around Antarctica, tidally forced and moreover strand cracks propagate nearly exclusively on the falling tide. Measured surface deflection and a model of fracture propagation are used to conclude that bending on the falling tide favors propagation while bending on the rising tide suppresses propagation. Without the perturbation due to tidal bending, strand cracks would be rare and appear farther downstream than observed. We speculate that the very large number of cracks observed at KIS is due to the stagnant-to-floating transition at that grounding line, which allows cyclic bending of the same ice and relatively large stretching rates.

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      Tidal bending and strand cracks at the Kamb Ice Stream grounding line, West Antarctica
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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
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Correspondence: Christina L. Hulbe <>
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Journal of Glaciology
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