Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published January 10, 2000 | Published
Journal Article Open

Basal mechanics of Ice Stream B, west Antarctica: 1. Till mechanics


Data from laboratory geotechnical tests on till recovered from beneath Ice Stream B, West Antarctica, at the Upstream B camp (hereinafter the UpB till) show that failure strength of this till is strongly dependent on effective stress but is practically independent of strain and strain rate. These data support use of a Coulomb-plastic rheology in modeling of ice stream behavior and subglacial till deformation. Our testing program combined triaxial, ring shear, and confined uniaxial tests to investigate till strength and compressibility. Results show that the UpB till follows closely Coulomb's equation in which shear strength is a linear function of normal effective stress (apparent cohesion near zero and internal friction angle ϕ equal to 24°). Till compressibility is best described by a logarithmic function that relates void ratio to normal effective stress. In general, the behavior of the UpB till is consistent with other experimental evidence regarding mechanical behavior of granular materials. Based on our laboratory results we formulate the Compressible-Coulomb-Plastic till model in which there are three interrelated, primary state variables: shear strength, void ratio, and normal effective stress. This model is used in the second part of our study to simulate response of subglacial till to realistic effective stress forcings. These simulations demonstrate that the model is capable of reproducing fundamental aspects of subglacial till kinematics: (1) occurrence of tilt rate oscillations and negative tilt rates in tiltmeter records, and (2) distributed till deformation to depths of 0.1–1.0 m beneath the ice base. Our laboratory and modeling results substantiate application of the Compressible-Coulomb-Plastic model in simulations of the motion of Ice Stream B over its weak till bed.

Additional Information

© 2000 American Geophysical Union. Manuscript Accepted: 20 Jul 1999. Manuscript Received: 6 Aug 1998. Revised March 3, 1999. Paper number 1999JB900329. This project was funded by grant OPP-9219279 from the National Science Foundation to B. Kamb and H. Engelhardt. Ronald F. Scott of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology has generously contributed equipment and expertise at many stages of this project. His help was especially vital during the design and construction of the ring shear device. We are thankful to Less Fruth and the management of Earth Technology, Inc., Irvine, California, for making available their triaxial testing laboratory. This paper benefited from helpful comments provided by Neil Humphrey, Neal Iverson, and Joseph Walder.

Attached Files

Published - jgrb12085.pdf


Files (2.2 MB)
Name Size Download all
2.2 MB Preview Download

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 26, 2023