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Deformation histories of ice exposed at various locations on the centreline in the ablation area of surge-type Variegated Glacier were estimated using a technique based on evaluation of strain-rate fields derived from velocity gradients. The analysis indicates that ice exposed in the upper part of the ablation area a few years after the 1982–83 surge had experienced a relatively simple deformation history that included one surge-related high magnitude deformation event. Ice exposed in the terminal lobe at the same time had experienced six surge phases during its approximately 100 year-long residence time. The histories of accumulation of cumulative strain are complex, and indicate that measures of cumulative strain can mask the effects of large but transient strain events. They also demonstrate that substantial cumulative strain can be ‘undone’ during subsequent deformation to leave a cumulative strain signal that is unrepresentative of earlier cumulative strain states.

Structural relationships in general do not reflect the complexity of the deformation histories experienced by the ice. A preliminary analysis of the relationships between the deformation histories and structural assemblages suggests, in particular, that brittle structures are reactivated several times during the history of the ice.

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