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New insights into the formation of submarine glacial landforms from high-resolution autonomous underwater vehicle data

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journal contribution
posted on 05.10.2020, 15:06 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.

Funding

Flotilla Foundation and Marine Archaeology Consultants Switzerland

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Geomorphology

Volume

370

Publisher

Elsevier BV

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Elsevier

Publisher statement

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Geomorphology and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2020.107396

Acceptance date

21/08/2020

Publication date

2020-08-27

Copyright date

2020

ISSN

0169-555X

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Jeffrey Evans Deposit date: 3 October 2020

Article number

107396