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Published 1994 | Published
Journal Article Open

Instruments and Methods: Direct measurement of sliding at the glacier bed


Sliding at the base of Trapridge Glacier, Yukon Territory, Canada, was measured using a "drag spool". We describe this simple and inexpensive instrument as well as its installation and operation. From 1990 to 1992 seven sites were instrumented with drag spools. At six of the sites basal sliding, during the period of observation, accounted for 50-70% of the total flow observed at the glacier surface. The contribution from ice creep is known to be small, so most of the remaining surface motion must be attributed to subglacial sediment deformation. For the seventh site the observed sliding rate was ~ 90% of the total flow, an indication that the sliding contribution varies spatially across the bed. Diurnal variations in the response of one of our instruments appear to be correlated to subglacial water-pressure fluctuations and are interpreted in terms of changes in sliding velocity rather than the opening and closing of basal cavities.

Additional Information

© 1994 International Glaciological Society. MS received 6 May 1993 and in revised form 31 January 1994. The authors wish to give special thanks to K. Dieter Schreiber and William Siep for their comments on the design and for their excellent machining skills. We thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Northern Studies Trust of the Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies for providing support for this research. The data presented in this paper were collected in Kluane National Park. We thank Parks Canada and the Government of the Yukon Territory for granting permission to conduct field studies in the park. We also acknowledge Neal Iverson and an anonymous reviewer for improving the manuscript.

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Published - instruments_and_methods_direct_measurement_of_sliding_at_the_glacier_bed.pdf



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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023