The History of Retreat Dynamics of Petermann Glacier Inferred from Submarine Glacial Landforms

TitleThe History of Retreat Dynamics of Petermann Glacier Inferred from Submarine Glacial Landforms
Publication TypeConference Abstract
AuthorsJakobsson, M, Hogan, K, Mayer, LA, Mix, AC, Jerram, K, Mohammad, R, Stranne, C, Eriksson, B
Conference Name2016 Fall Meeting, American Geological Society (AGU)
Conference LocationSan Francisco, CA
Conference DatesDecember 12-16
Keywordspetermann glacier, retreat dynamics, submarine glacial landforms

Preserved submarine glacial landforms produced at the base and margin of ice sheets and outlet glaciers comprise records of past ice dynamics complementary to modern glaciological process studies. The Petermann 2015 Expedition on the Swedish icebreaker Oden systematically mapped approximately 3100 km2 of the seafloor in Petermann Fjord and the adjacent Hall Basin of Nares Strait, northwest Greenland, with an EM122 (12 kHz) multibeam and SBP120 (2-7 kHz) chirp sub-bottom profiler. Complete, overlapping mapping coverage permitted compilation of a high-quality (15x15m) digital terrain model (DTM). In addition, the seafloor at the margin of one of the smaller outlet glaciers draining into the Petermann Fjord and selected shallow areas along the coast were mapped using a small survey boat (RV Skidbladner), equipped with an EM2040 (200-300 kHz) multibeam. High-resolution (2 x 2 m) DTMs were compiled from the RV Skidbladner surveys. The seafloor morphology of Petermann Fjord and adjacent Hall Basin is dominated by a stunning glacial landform record comprising the imprints of Petermann Glacier’s retreat dynamics since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The entrance to Petermann Fjord consists of a prominent bathymetric sill formed by a large well-develop grounding zone wedge that undoubtedly represents a stability point during the glacier’s retreat history. The deepest entrance to the fjord is 443 m and located on the southern side of this grounding zone wedge. Outside of this grounding zone wedge in Hall Basin, less well developed grounding zones appears to be present. The landform assemblage in between the grounding zones, in particular the lack of retreat ridges, may signify a leap-frog behavior of the glacier’s retreat; rapid break-up and disintegration of the outlet glacier causing retreat back to the next stability point dictated by the local bedrock geology. While numerous classical glacial landforms characteristic for fast flowing ice streams are identified, the multibeam bathymetry also reveals an enigmatic, toilet bowl-shaped features whose origin is still unclear. The collected data during the Petermann 2015 Expedition will among other things provide new insights into ice shelf-ocean interactions, essential to projecting future climate impacts on Greenland and global sea level changes.