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Subglacial sediment production and snout marginal ice uplift during the late ablation season of a temperate valley glacier

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Author(s): Pascal Perolo, M Bakker, C Gabbud, G Moradi, C Rennie, S N. Lane

Document Type:
Publisher: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Published Year: 2019
Volume: 44
Number: 5
Pages: 1117 to 1136
DOI Identifier: 10.1002/esp.4562
ISBN Identifier:
Keywords: subglacial dynamics glacial surface changes LiDAR digital elevation model (DEM) sedimentary measures suspension load bedload sediment transport modelling ice melt season

Sediment export from glaciated basins involves complex interactions between ice flow, basal erosion and sediment transfer in subglacial and proglacial streams. In particular, we know very little about the processes associated with sediment transfer by subglacial streams. The Haut Glacier d'Arolla (VS, Switzerland) was investigated during the summer melt season of 2015. LiDAR survey revealed positive surface changes in the ablation zone, indicating glacier uplift, at the end of the morning during the period of peak ablation. Instream measures of sediment transport showed that suspended load and bedload responded differently to diurnal flow variability. Suspended load depended on the availability of fine material whereas bedload depended mainly on the competence of the flow. Interpretation of these results allowed development of a conceptual model of subglacial sediment transport dynamics. It is based upon the mechanisms of clogging (deposition) and flushing (transport/erosion) in sub-glacial channels as forced by diurnal flow variability. Through the melt season, the glacier hydrological response evolves from being buffered by glacier snow cover with a poorly developed subglacial drainage system to being dominated by more rapid ice melt with a more hydraulically efficient subglacial channel system. The resultant changes in the shape of diurnal discharge hydrographs, and notably higher peak flows and lower base flows, causes sediment transport to become discontinuous, with overnight clogging and late morning flushing of subglacial channels. Overnight clogging may be sufficient to reduce subglacial channel size, creating temporarily pressurized flow and lateral transfer of water away from the subglacial channels, leading to the late morning glacier surface uplift. However, without further data, we cannot exclude other hypotheses for the uplift.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Perolo and others (2019) or (Perolo et al., 2019)

References Citation:
Perolo, P., M. Bakker, C. Gabbud, G. Moradi, C. Rennie, and S.N. Lane, 2019, Subglacial sediment production and snout marginal ice uplift during the late ablation season of a temperate valley glacier: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, Vol. 44, No. 5, pp. 1117-1136, doi: 10.1002/esp.4562.