Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Geomorphological investigation of multiphase glacitectonic composite ridge systems in Svalbard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Harold Lovell, Douglas I. Benn, Sven Lukas, Matteo Spagnolo, Simon J. Cook, Darrel A. Swift, Chris D. Clark, Jacob C. Yde, Tom P. Watts

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Some surge-type glaciers on the High-Arctic archipelago of Svalbard have large glacitectonic composite ridge systems at their terrestrial margins. These have formed by rapid glacier advance into proglacial sediments during the active surge phase, creating multicrested moraine complexes. Such complexes can be formed during single surge advances or multiple surges to successively less-extensive positions. The few existing studies of composite ridge systems have relied on detailed information on internal structure and sedimentology to reconstruct their formation and links to surge processes. However, natural exposures of internal structure are commonly unavailable, and the creation of artificial exposures is often problematic in fragile Arctic environments. To compensate for these issues, we investigate the potential for reconstructing composite ridge system formation based on geomorphological evidence alone, focusing on clear morphostratigraphic relationships between ridges within the moraine complex and relict meltwater channels/outwash fans. Based on mapping at the margins of Finsterwalderbreen (in Van Keulenfjorden) and Grønfjordbreen (in Grønfjorden), we show that relict meltwater channels that breach outer parts of the composite ridge systems are in most cases truncated upstream within the ridge complex by an inner pushed ridge or ridges at their ice-proximal extents. Our interpretation of this relationship is that the entire composite ridge system is unlikely to have formed during the same glacier advance but is instead the product of multiple advances to successively less-extensive positions, whereby younger ridges are emplaced on the ice-proximal side of older ridges. This indicates that the Finsterwalderbreen composite ridge system has been formed by multiple separate advances, consistent with the cyclicity of surges. Being able to identify the frequency and magnitude of former surges is important as it provides insight into the past behaviour of surge-type glaciers and, if absolute dating is possible, allows for the assessment of surge-type glacier response to climate change on decadal to centennial timescales. Although further investigations into the internal structure of these deposits should be sought where possible, our study demonstrates that geomorphology could be an invaluable tool for reconstructing the formation of composite ridge systems.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-188
Number of pages13
JournalGeomorphology
Volume300
Early online date31 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

    Research areas

  • Glacitectonic composite ridge system, Glacier surge, Glacial geomorphology, Svalbard

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Sensitivity of tidewater glaciers to submarine melting governed by plume locations

    Cowton, T., Todd, J. A. & Benn, D. I., 9 Sep 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Geophysical Research Letters. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Impact of warming shelf waters on ice mélange and terminus retreat at a large SE Greenland glacier

    Bevan, S., Luckman, A., Benn, D. I., Cowton, T. & Todd, J., 5 Sep 2019, In : The Cryosphere. 13, p. 2303-2315 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. A general theory of glacier surges

    Benn, D. I., Fowler, A., Hewitt, I. & Sevestre, H., 29 Aug 2019, In : Journal of Glaciology. First View, p. 1-16 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Sensitivity of a calving glacier to ice—ocean interactions under climate change: new insights from a 3-D full-Stokes model

    Todd, J., Christoffersen, P., Zwinger, T., Råback, P. & Benn, D. I., 14 Jun 2019, In : The Cryosphere. 13, 6, p. 1681-1694 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Automatic detection of calving events from time-lapse imagery at Tunabreen, Svalbard

    Vallot, D., Adinugroho, S., Strand, R., How, P., Pettersson, R., Benn, D. & Hulton, N. R. J., 29 Mar 2019, In : Geoscientific Instrumentation Methods and Data Systems. 8, 1, p. 113-127 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Bedform migration in a mixed sand and cohesive clay intertidal environment and implications for bed material transport predictions

    Lichtman, I. D., Baas, J. H., Amoudry, L. O., Thorne, P. D., Malarkey, J., Hope, J. A., Peakall, J., Paterson, D. M., Bass, S. J., Cooke, R. D., Manning, A. J., Davies, A. G., Parsons, D. R. & Ye, L., 15 Aug 2018, In : Geomorphology. 315, p. 17-32

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. The impact of the streamflow hydrograph on sediment supply from terrace erosion

    Higson, J. L. & Singer, M. B., 1 Nov 2015, In : Geomorphology. 248, p. 475-488

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. The role of condensation in the evolution of dissolutional forms in gypsum caves: Study case in the karst of Sorbas (SE Spain)

    Gazquez Sanchez, F., Calaforra, J. M., Forti, P., De Waele, J. & Sanna, L., 5 Jan 2015, In : Geomorphology. 229, p. 100-111 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Unequal ice-sheet erosional impacts across low-relief shield terrain in northern Fennoscandia

    Ebert, K., Hall, A. M., Kleman, J. & Andersson, J., 15 Mar 2015, In : Geomorphology. 233, p. 64-74 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 251464534