New insights into the formation of submarine glacial landforms from high-resolution autonomous underwater vehicle data
journal contributionposted on 2020-10-05, 15:06 authored by Christine L Batchelor, Aleksandr Montelli, Dag Ottesen, Jeffrey EvansJeffrey Evans, Evelyn K Dowdeswell, Frazer DW Christie, Julian A Dowdeswell
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) deployed close to the seafloor can acquire high-resolution geophysical data about the topography and shallow stratigraphy of the seabed, yet have had limited application within the fields of glacial geomorphology and ice sheet reconstruction. Here, we present multibeam echo-sounding, side-scan sonar, sub bottom profiler and High-Resolution Synthetic Aperture Sonar (HISAS) data acquired during three AUV dives on the northeast Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf. These data enable glacial landforms, including mega-scale glacial lineations (MSGLs), grounding-zone wedges (GZWs) and iceberg ploughmarks, to be imaged at a horizontal resolution of a few tens of centimetres, allowing for the identification of subdued morphological features. We map tidal ridges that are interpreted as having been formed 1) along the ice-sheet grounding line by the squeezing up of soft seafloor sediments by vertical motion of the grounding line during tidal cycles, and 2) by the tidally driven motion of grounded or near-grounded icebergs. These data also enable the mapping of small GZWs that show the location of short-term still-stands or re-advances of the ice-sheet grounding zone. No meltwater channels are identified from our data, suggesting that free-flowing meltwater may not be essential for the formation of GZWs or MSGLs. The examples presented here show how high-resolution AUV-derived geophysical data provide a step-change in our ability to image seafloor glacial landforms, enabling new interpretations about past ice dynamics and glacial sedimentation at fine temporal and spatial scales.
Flotilla Foundation and Marine Archaeology Consultants Switzerland
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Geography and Environment