Marginal fluctuations of a Svalbard surge-type tidewater glacier, Bloomstrandbreen, since the little ice age: a record of three surges

Previous advances and retreats of Blomstrandbreen within the cold period known as the Little Ice Age, between approximately 1400 and 1920, are relatively well documented. The seafloor characteristics associated with these glacier fluctuations, and their importance for the identification of similar surge-type tidewater glaciers, are discussed. We use detailed multibeam-bathymetric data acquired within Nordvågen, the marine area offshore of Blomstrandbreen, to provide a new understanding of the style and pattern of deglaciation around Blomstrandhalvøya since Blomstrandbreen's neoglacial maximum. Glacial landforms on the seafloor of Nordvågen comprise overridden moraines, glacial lineations, terminal moraines, and annual recessional moraines. Crevasse-fill ridges, which are often regarded as a characteristic landform of surging tidewater glaciers, are present on only restricted areas of Nordvågen. Significantly, this study shows that large terminal surge moraines and numerous crevasse-fill ridges may not always be well developed in association with glacier surges, with implications for the identification of surges in the geological record. Using historical observations, aerial photographs, and satellite imagery of Blomstrandbreen, we have correlated former ice-marginal positions with mapped submarine landforms. Three surge events occurred during a pattern of overall retreat, with a spacing of about 50 years between active advance phases; this represents a relatively short quiescent phase for Svalbard glaciers. Average retreat rates of 10–50 m yr-1 are typical of the quiescent phase of the surge cycle, whereas surge advances vary from 200 m to over 725 m.


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Authors: Burton, David J., Dowdeswell, Julian A., Hogan, Kelly A. ORCIDORCID record for Kelly A. Hogan, Noormets, Riko

On this site: Kelly Hogan
1 May, 2016
Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research / 48
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