The englacial stratigraphy of Wilkes Land, East Antarctica, as revealed by internal radio-echo sounding layering, and its relationship with balance velocities

D M Rippin, M J Siegert, J L Bamber

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The disruption of internal layering visible in radio-echo sounding (RES) data from East Antarctica has, to date, been attributed to ice flow around bedrock topography. However, observations of internal layer disruption in the Siple Coast ice streams of West Antarctica have led to the suggestion that increased strain at the margins of ice streams may also be responsible for the disruption of internal layers. Here we present a re-analysis of the extensive RES dataset collected between 1967 and 1979 over a large part of Wilkes Land, East Antarctica, and relate the location of continuous and disrupted internal layers to modelled balance velocities. We show that the mean balance velocity associated with all areas of disrupted layers is 2.5 times higher than that associated with areas of continuous layers. We also demonstrate that disrupted layers are associated not only with ice streams, but also with areas of enhanced ice flow, which penetrate inland from the grounding line up to several hundred kilometres into the interior of East Antarctica. Continuous layers always overlie disrupted layers, suggesting either a depth dependency in the process responsible for layer disruption, or subsequent deposition of continuous layers. In some cases, disrupted layers occur outside fast-flow features, and continuous layers occur within fast-flow features. Such regions are explained by short-term flow patterns, but might also be attributed to inaccuracies in the balance-velocity calculations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of glaciology
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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