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Potential effects of subglacial water-pressure fluctuations on quarrying
Journal of Glaciology (1991)
  • Neal R. Iverson, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Water-pressure fluctuations beneath glaciers may accelerate rock fracture by redistributing stresses on subglacial bedrock and changing the pressure of water in bedrock cracks. To study the potential influence of water-pressure fluctuations on the fracture of subglacial bedrock, ice flow over a small bedrock step with a water-filled cavity in its lee is numerically modeled, and stresses on the bedrock surface arc calculated as a function of transient water pressures in the cavity. Stresses on the bed are then used to calculate principal stress differences within the step. Rapid reductions in cavity water pressure increase principal stress differences in the bed, increasing the likelihood of crack growth in the step and the formation of predominantly vertical fractures. Relatively impermeable bedrock may be most susceptible to fracturing during water-pressure reductions because high water pressure in cracks within the rock can be maintained, as water pressure decreases in cavities. These results, when considered in conjunction with the strong likelihood that increases in water pressure accelerate the removal of rock fragments loosened from the bed, suggest that in zones of ice-bed separation where water-pressure fluctuations typically are large, rates of quarrying may be higher than along other parts of glacier beds.
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Copyright International Glaciological Society 1994. Posted with permission.
Citation Information
Neal R. Iverson. "Potential effects of subglacial water-pressure fluctuations on quarrying" Journal of Glaciology Vol. 37 Iss. 125 (1991) p. 27 - 36
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY International License.