Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

How nonlinear is the creep deformation of polar ice? A new field assessment

K. M. Cuffey and J. L. Kavanaugh
How nonlinear is the creep deformation of polar ice? A new field assessment
Geology (Boulder) (November 2011) 39 (11): 1027-1030


Most analyses of glacial systems require a relationship between strain rates and stresses for ice deforming in creep. For conditions relevant to glacier flow, much evidence shows that strain rates increase approximately as deviatoric stress raised to a power n. Field and laboratory experiments suggest that n nearly equal 3, but values span a wide range and controversy persists. Most field efforts to determine n seek clarity by examining situations with simple stress states. We instead use a fully three-dimensional model to interpret measurements of flow of an Antarctic outlet glacier that follows a tortuous path through a mountain range. By comparing observed flow to models with different parameter values, we conclude that the effective n must be between 2.6 and 5.1 (99% confidence). The best match occurs with n nearly equal 3.5. We conclude that use of the traditional value is appropriate for polar ice deforming at stresses of 0.6-1.2 X 10 (super 5) Pa.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 39
Serial Issue: 11
Title: How nonlinear is the creep deformation of polar ice? A new field assessment
Affiliation: University of California, Berkeley, Department of Geography, Berkeley, CA, United States
Pages: 1027-1030
Published: 201111
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 29
Accession Number: 2012-007670
Categories: Quaternary geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, sketch map
S78°00'00" - S77°30'00", E161°30'00" - E163°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Alberta, CAN, Canada
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201204
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal