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Effect of subglacial volcanism on changes in the West Antarctic Ice SheetRapid changes in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) may affect future global sea-level changes. Alley and Whillans note that 'the water responsible for separating the glacier from its bed is produced by frictional dissipation and geothermal heat,' but assume that changes in geothermal flux would ordinarily be expected to have slower effects than glaciological parameters. I suggest that episodic subglacial volcanism and geothermal heating may have significantly greater effects on the WAIS than is generally appreciated. The WAIS flows through the active, largely asiesmic West Antarctic rift system (WS), which defines the sub-sea-level bed of the glacier. Various lines of evidence summarized in Behrendt et al. (1991) indicate high heat flow and shallow asthenosphere beneath the extended, weak lithosphere underlying the WS and the WAIS. Behrendt and Cooper suggest a possible synergistic relation between Cenozoic tectonism, episodic mountain uplift and volcanism in the West Antarctic rift system, and the waxing and waning of the Antarctic ice sheet beginning about earliest Oligocene time. A few active volcanoes and late-Cenozoic volcanic rocks are exposed throughout the WS along both flanks, and geophysical data suggest their presence beneath the WAIS. No part of the rift system can be considered inactive. I propose that subglacial volcanic eruptions and ice flow across areas of locally (episodically?) high heat flow--including volcanically active areas--should be considered possibly to have a forcing effect on the thermal regime resulting in increased melting at the base of the ice streams.
Document ID
19930022712
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Behrendt, John C.
(Geological Survey Denver, CO, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: NASA. Goddard Space Flight Center, The First Annual West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Science Workshop
Subject Category
Geophysics
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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