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Rapid advance of two mountain glaciers in response to mine-related debris loading

Jamieson, S.S.R.; Ewertowski, M.W.; Evans, D.J.A.

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M.W. Ewertowski


Rapid glacier advance is known to occur by a range of mechanisms. However, although large-scale debris loading has been proposed as a process for causing rapid terminus advance, it has rarely been observed. We use satellite remote-sensing data to observe accelerated glacier terminus advance in response to massive supraglacial loading on two glaciers in Kyrgyzstan. Over a 15 year period, mining activity has led to the dumping of spoil of up to 180 m thick on large parts of these valley glaciers. We find that the termini of these glaciers advance by 1.2 and 3.2 km respectively at a rate of up to 350 m yr−1. Our analysis suggests that although enhanced basal sliding could be an important process, massive supraglacial loads have also caused enhanced internal ice deformation that would account for most, or all, of the glacier terminus advance. In addition, narrowing of the glacier valley and mining and dumping of ice alter the mass balance and flow regime of the glaciers. Although the scale of supraglacial loading is massive, this full-scale experiment provides insight into glacier flow acceleration response where small valley glaciers are impacted by very large volumes of landslide debris.


Jamieson, S., Ewertowski, M., & Evans, D. (2015). Rapid advance of two mountain glaciers in response to mine-related debris loading. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 120(7), 1418-1435.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 25, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 20, 2015
Publication Date Jul 27, 2015
Deposit Date Feb 27, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 27, 2015
Journal Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Print ISSN 2169-9011
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 120
Issue 7
Pages 1418-1435
Keywords Glacier advance, Debris-covered glacier, Supraglacial debris, Human impact, Mining, Ice deformation.


Accepted Journal Article (2 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2015. The Authors. This is an open access article under the
terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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