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Reinterpretation of Pingos in Antarctica

  • Sean J. Fitzsimons (a1)

In 1983 pingos were reported in the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. The features form dome-shaped hills up to 4 m high and 12 m in diameter and occur on an ice-cored moraine. Their form, structure, and sedimentary processes observed on the surface of the moraine, together with a consideration of the environmental requirements for pingo growth preclude their origin as pingos. They appear to be residual landforms that have formed on the surface of the moraine as the ice core has been destroyed by ablation and thermal erosion. The previous interpretation of the features has relied on the shape of the hills and their occurrence in a similar geologic setting to pingos in the Northern Hemisphere. The interpretation appears to have misinterpreted tension cracks and coherent slumping of sediment as dilation cracks and as evidence for the extrusion of a central sediment plug. Pingos on supraglacial debris have not been described from any other locations and it seems that their formation is inconsistent with the ablation of the ice core of moraines.

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Clayton, L., (1964). Karst topography on stagnant glaciers Journal of Glaciology 5, 107112
Hooke, R.L., (1970). Morphology of the ice-sheet margin near Thule, Greenland Journal of Glaciology 9, 303324
Mackay, J.R., (1979). Pingos of the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula area, Northwest territories Geographie Physique et Quaternarie 33, 361
Mackay, J.R., (1987). Some mechanical aspects of pingo growth and failure Canadian Journal of Earth Science 24, 11081119
McKenzie, G.D., (1969). Observations on a collapsing Kame Terrace in Glacier Bay National Monument, south-eastern Alaska Journal of Glaciology 8, 413425
Pickard, J., (1983). Pingos in Antarctica Quaternary Research 20, 105109
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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
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