Thrusting and debris entrainment in a surging glacier: Bakaninbreen, Svalbard

Michael J. Hambrey, Julian A. Dowdeswell, Tavi Murray, Philip R. Porter
1996 Annals of Glaciology  
Bakaninbreen, a 17 km long glacier terminating in fjord waters in central Spitsbergen (77°45′ N, 17°20′E), began to surge between the springs of 1985 and 1986. By summer 1994 the surge front had reached a position 3 km from the terminus and had almost ceased propagation. Structural investigations were undertaken to characterise the tectonic evolution of this thermally complex surge-type glacier, and the role played by thrusting and its effect on debris entrainment. Much of the glacier surface,
more » ... e glacier surface, particularly within and below the surge front, displayed transverse high-angle thrusts, defined by discrete fractures bounded by coarse clear ice. Some fractures were associated with a film of mud, whereas in others a discrete laver of diamicton, with interstitial ice several decimetres thick, was evident. Within the surge front, and genetically related to the thrusts, was a number of shear zones several metres wide. These were defined by fine-grained ice that was the product of the grinding up of crystals during shear (mylonitization). Three main sedimentary facies are associated with the thrusts: mud, gravelly mud and clast-rich muddy diamicton. The diamicton has the character of basal glacial debris: grain-size distribution ranging from clay to cobble size, clasts with a predominance in the sub-angular and sub-rounded classes, and striated and faceted clasts. Hot-water drilling through the glacier revealed several englacial layers above the surge front, and debris brought up on the drill stem suggests a basal origin. At least some of these englacial layers are probably the sub-surface continuations of the thrusts. The observed facies indicate that the glacier is moving over a soft, deformable bed and that thrusting is an important process in transferring debris to the surface, especially when the surge front is propagating down-glacier.
doi:10.1017/s0260305500015482 fatcat:nampdzc3ubexdnatoicmadmdwa