High-Resolution Seismic Analyses of Subglacial Water Storage University of Idaho Seed Grant uri icon



  • At the beds of glaciers, where ice meets rock and sediment, water flow and storage can speed or slow ice flow, promote iceberg calving, erode sediment, and sculpt valleys. How ever, our understanding of these glaciological processes is severely limited by our under standing of subglacial hydrology. The rapid growth and collapse of water-filled cavities and tunnels at glacier beds further complicates our interpretations of the evolution of this inaccessible region. To meet the need for improved observations of subglacial hydrology, we will deploy a network of seismometers spanning Lemon Creek Glacier, in Southeast Alaska. Glacier seismology represents a rapidly developing frontier with the ability to locate and track the amount of subglacial water flow. With ancillary meteorological and glacier flow measurements, we will calculate the amount and location of subglacial water storage (a critical control on glacier sliding speed) during the 2017 summer melt season. These observations will allow us to test the hypothesis that the amount and location of water storage increases and decreases during the melt season, leading to varying sliding sensitivity to water input. This project, a multi-university collaboration, is anticipated to result in at least one paper, a proposal to NSF, and outreach to -30 undergraduates.