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Alpine topography of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, Antarctica, mapped from ice sheet surface morphology

Lea, Edmund J.; Jamieson, Stewart S. R.; Bentley, Michael J.

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Abstract

Landscapes buried beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet preserve information about the geologic and geomorphic evolution of the continent both before and during the wide-scale glaciation that began roughly 34×106 years ago. Since the inception of this ice sheet, some areas have remained cold-based and non-erosive, preserving ancient landscapes remarkably intact. The Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains in central East Antarctica are one such landscape, maintaining evidence of tectonic, fluvial and glacial controls on their distinctly alpine morphology. The central Gamburtsev Mountains have previously been surveyed using airborne ice-penetrating radar; however, many questions remain as to their evolution and their influence on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, including where in the region to drill for a 1.5×106 year-long “oldest-ice” core. Here, we derive new maps of the planform geometry of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains from satellite remote sensing datasets of the ice sheet surface, based on the relationship between bed roughness and ice surface morphology. Automated and manual approaches to mapping were tested and validated against existing radar data and elevation models. Manual mapping was more effective than automated approaches at reproducing bed features observed in radar data, but a hybrid approach is suggested for future work. The maps produced here show the detail of mountain ridges and valleys on wavelengths significantly smaller than the spacing of existing radar flightlines, and mapping has extended well beyond the confines of existing radar surveys. Morphometric analysis of the mapped landscape reveals that it constitutes a preserved (>34 Ma) dendritic valley network, with some evidence for modification by topographically confined glaciation prior to ice sheet inception. The planform geometry of the landscape is a significant control on locations of basal melting, subglacial hydrological flows and the stability of the ice sheet over time, so the maps presented here may help to guide decisions about where to search for oldest ice.

Citation

Lea, E. J., Jamieson, S. S. R., & Bentley, M. J. (2024). Alpine topography of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, Antarctica, mapped from ice sheet surface morphology. The Cryosphere, 18(4), 1733-1751. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-18-1733-2024

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 16, 2024
Online Publication Date Apr 12, 2024
Publication Date Apr 4, 2024
Deposit Date May 2, 2024
Publicly Available Date May 2, 2024
Journal The Cryosphere
Publisher Copernicus Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 4
Pages 1733-1751
DOI https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-18-1733-2024
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/2431826

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