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Seismic observations of a complex firn structure across the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 04:23 authored by Hollmann, H, Adam TreverrowAdam Treverrow, Peters, LE, Anya ReadingAnya Reading, Kulessa, B
We use seismic refraction data to investigate the firn structure across a suture zone on the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica, and the possible role of glacier dynamics in firn evolution. In the downstream direction, the data reveal decreasing compressional-wave velocities and increasing penetration depth of the propagating wave in the firn layer, consistent with ~1m firn thickening every 6 km. The boundary between the Lambert Glacier unit to the west and a major suture zone and the Mawson Escarpment Ice Stream unit to the east, is marked by differences in firn thicknesses, compressional-wave velocities and seismic anisotropy in the across-flow direction. The latter does not contradict the presence of a single-maximum crystal orientation fabric oriented 45–90◦ away from the flow direction. This is consistent with the presence of transverse simple shear governing the region’s underlying ice flow regime, in association with elevated strain along the suture zone. The confirmation and quantification of the implied dynamic coupling between firn and the underlying ice requires integration of future seismic refraction, coring and modelling studies. Because firn is estimated to cover ~ 98% of the Antarctic continent any such coupling may have widespread relevance to ice-sheet evolution and flow.


Australian Research Council


Publication title

Journal of Glaciology










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Int Glaciol Soc

Place of publication

Lensfield Rd, Cambridge, England, Cb2 1Er

Rights statement

© The Author(s), 2021. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences; Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences

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