Subglacial till can deform when overriding ice exerts shear traction at the ice–till interface. This deformation leaves a strain signature in the till, aligning grains in the direction of ice flow and producing a range of diagnostic microstructures. Constraining the conditions that produce these kinematic indicators is key to interpreting the myriad of features found in basal till deposits. Here, we used a cryogenic ring shear device with transparent sample chamber walls to slip a ring of temperate ice over a till bed from which we examined the strain signature in the till. We used cameras mounted to the side of the ring shear and bead strings inserted in the till to estimate the strain distribution within the till layer. Following the completion of the experiment, we extracted and analyzed anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) samples and created thin sections of the till bed for microstructure analysis. We then compared the AMS and microstructures with the observed strain history to examine the relationship between kinematic indicators and strain in a setting where shear traction is supplied by ice. We found that AMS fabrics show a high degree of clustering in regions of high strain near the ice–till interface. In the uppermost zone of till, k1 eigenvector azimuths are generally aligned with ice flow, and S1 eigenvalues are high. However, S1 eigenvalues and the alignment of the k1 eigenvector with ice flow decrease nonlinearly with distance from the ice–till interface. There is a high occurrence of microshears in the zone of increased deformation.

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