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Seismic Mapping of Subglacial Hydrology Reveals Previously Undetected Pressurization Event

Labedz, Celeste R. and Bartholomaus, Timothy C. and Amundson, Jason M. and Gimbert, Florent and Karplus, Marianne S. and Tsai, Victor C. and Veitch, Stephen A. (2022) Seismic Mapping of Subglacial Hydrology Reveals Previously Undetected Pressurization Event. Journal of Geophysical Research. Earth Surface, 127 (3). Art. No. e2021JF006406. ISSN 2169-9003. doi:10.1029/2021jf006406.

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Understanding the dynamic response of glaciers to climate change is vital for assessing water resources and hazards, and subglacial hydrology is a key player in glacier systems. Traditional observations of subglacial hydrology are spatially and temporally limited, but recent seismic deployments on and around glaciers show the potential for comprehensive observation of glacial hydrologic systems. We present results from a high-density seismic deployment spanning the surface of Lemon Creek Glacier, Alaska. Our study coincided with a marginal lake drainage event, which served as a natural experiment for seismic detection of changes in subglacial hydrology. We observed glaciohydraulic tremor across the surface of the glacier that was generated by the subglacial hydrologic system. During the lake drainage, the relative changes in seismic tremor power and water flux are consistent with pressurization of the subglacial system of only the upper part of the glacier. This event was not accompanied by a significant increase in glacier velocity; either some threshold necessary for rapid basal motion was not attained, or, plausibly, the geometry of Lemon Creek Glacier inhibited speedup. This pressurization event would have likely gone undetected without seismic observations, demonstrating the power of cryoseismology in testing assumptions about and mapping the spatial extent of subglacial pressurization.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription and GPS data ItemWeather data ItemDischarge data for Lemon Creek codes
Labedz, Celeste R.0000-0001-7339-2170
Bartholomaus, Timothy C.0000-0002-1470-6720
Amundson, Jason M.0000-0002-2801-3124
Gimbert, Florent0000-0001-7350-3563
Karplus, Marianne S.0000-0001-6007-5790
Tsai, Victor C.0000-0003-1809-6672
Veitch, Stephen A.0000-0002-2389-9894
Additional Information:© 2022 American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 24 February 2022; Version of Record online: 24 February 2022; Accepted manuscript online: 16 February 2022; Manuscript accepted: 11 February 2022; Manuscript revised: 27 January 2022; Manuscript received: 20 August 2021. This work was made possible in part by hard work in the field by Margot Vore, Daniel Bowden, Galen Kaip, and the students and staff of the 2017 Juneau Icefield Research Program. We especially thank Matt Beedle for provision of the photogrammetrically-produced DEM of Lake Linda, following lake drainage. This work was also aided by the advice of Mike Gurnis and Rob Clayton. We thank Paul Winberry and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback, which improved this paper greatly. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. DGE-1745301. This work was made possible in part by a University of Idaho seed grant, #FY18-01. DEM provided by the Polar Geospatial Center under NSF-OPP awards 1043681, 1559691, and 1542736. The authors declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this study. Data Availability Statement: Seismic and GPS data used in this manuscript are available at Weather data are available under the Camp 17 station at Discharge data for Lemon Creek are available at Data processing MATLAB codes are available at
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-1745301
University of IdahoFY18-01
Subject Keywords:Cryoseismology; Environmental Seismology; Glacier Hydrology; Seismology; Glaciology
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220217-687235000
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Labedz, C. R., Bartholomaus, T. C., Amundson, J. M., Gimbert, F., Karplus, M. S., Tsai, V. C., & Veitch, S. A. (2022). Seismic mapping of subglacial hydrology reveals previously undetected pressurization event. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 127, e2021JF006406.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113496
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:17 Feb 2022 20:38
Last Modified:22 Mar 2022 20:58

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