Electrical resistivity of George VI Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula

A georesistivity survey was made on part of George VI Ice Shelf (71°55'S, 67°20'W). The principal objectives were to determine the electrical structure of the 1ce shelf, in particular how refrozen melt water differs in electrical behaviour from dry firn, and to Investigate the environment beneath the ice shelf. Apparent resistivity profiles using a Schlumberger electrode configuration have been interpreted using Ghosh's convolution method for vertical electrical sounding (VES), adapted for use where extreme resistivity contrasts are present. Warm, wet surface conditions tend to reduce the gross resistivity of shallow permeable layers. The electrical results indicate that the refrozen free water has affected the resistivity only indirectly; the mean density of firn is raised to about 0.915 Mg m−3 within the uppermost 10 m of the ice shelf at which point the resistivity is comparable to that of Ice of the same density but formed by compaction of firn. The apparent resistivities in the top 100 m reflect the variation of density with depth; a small range of resistivities implies that the range of density 1s narrow and that densification is affected by the percolation and refreezing of melt water. The bulk of the ice behaves as if resistivity either Is independent of temperature or has only a slight dependence (activation energy ~0.15 eV) with a basal melting rate in excess of 1 to 2 m a−1. The principal resistivities determined for two sites on George VI Ice Shelf were within 10% of those at station BC on the Ross Ice Shelf, allowing for differences in temperature. This Indicates that polar ice, I.e. non-temperate ice, has a very narrow range of resistivity. The apparent resistivity profiles are consistent with there being sea-water of oceanic salinity under the Ice shelf.


Publication status:
Authors: Reynolds, John M.

1 January, 1982
Annals of Glaciology / 3
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