Modes of sediment delivery to the grounding line of a fast-flowing tidewater glacier: implications for ice-margin conditions and glacier dynamics
Ida Lønne, W. Nemec, 2011. "Modes of sediment delivery to the grounding line of a fast-flowing tidewater glacier: implications for ice-margin conditions and glacier dynamics", Ice-Marginal and Periglacial Processes and Sediments, I. P. Martini, H. M. French, A. PéRez Alberti
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The study focuses on the terminal moraine of a fast-flowing, temperate tidewater glacier that protruded in Oslofjorden trough, southern Norway, during one of the re-advances of the receding Fennoscandian Ice Sheet in the Younger Dryas time. Allostratigraphic mapping is used to reconstruct the moraine's morphodynamic development, showing how information on the dynamics of ancient glaciers can be derived from their grounding-line deposits. The Storsand moraine commenced its development in the latest phases of ice-margin advance and continued to grow during the stillstand phase, as long as the ice flux persisted. The thick moraine (>100 m) formed in a few decades, to be rapidly abandoned and later emerged by regional uplift. The study concludes that: (a) both meltwater and ice flow invariably supply sediment to the grounding line, and it is the varied preservation potential of ice-derived diamicton that results in misleading differences between moraines; (b) the glacier-front kinematics is asymmetrical with slow advances and rapid retreats; (c) no moraines can form during glacier retreat; (d) the front of an outlet glacier may stabilize while the adjacent ice margin is oscillating or virtually retreating; and (e) marine moraines are an important source of information about ancient ice margins and glacier dynamics.
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Understanding the sediments deposited by glaciers or other cold-climate processes assumes enhanced significance in the context of current global warming and the predicted melt and retreat of glaciers and ice sheets.
This volume analyses glacial, proglacial and periglacial settings focusing, among others, on sedimentation at termini of tidewater glaciers, on hitherto not-well-understood high-mountain features, and on sediments such as slope and aeolian deposits whose clasts were sourced in glacial and periglacial regions, but have been transported and deposited by azonal processes. Difficulties are thus often encountered in inferring Pleistocene and pre-Pleistocene cold-climate conditions when the sedimentary record lacks many of the specific diagnostic indicators. The main objective of this volume is to establish the validity and limitations of the evidence that can be obtained from widely distributed clastic deposits, in order to achieve reliable palaeogeographic and palaeoclimatic reconstructions. At a more general level and on the much longer geological timescale, an understanding of ice-marginal and periglacial environments may better prepare us for the unavoidable reversal towards cooler and perhaps even glacial times in the future.