Accelerated subglacial erosion in response to stick-slip motion

Posted By News On November 17, 2012 - 4:54pm

The form of many of the world's mountain ranges has been brought about through the erosive capabilities of the glaciers that lay upon them.

Glacial erosion is generally depicted as a steady process, occurring over long periods coupled with steady motion of the glaciers. It is becoming increasingly evident that glaciers do not always behave in a steady manner and that at times they can undergo rapid advancements over their base similar to the way an earthquake slips. The sudden slip generates seismicity that can be observed remotely.

L.K. Zoet and colleagues use seismic observations of glaciers as a basis for postulating that these brief advancements, followed by periods of little to no motion, can modify traditional mechanisms of glacial erosion and result in an amplification of the glacier's ability to erode.

L.K. Zoet et al., Dept. of Geosciences, and Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Pennsylvania State University. Posted online 6 November 2012; doi: 10.1130/G33624.1.

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