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Origin of the active drumlin field at Mulajokull, Iceland: New insights from till shear and consolidation patterns

Journal article
Authors R. G. McCracken
N. R. Iverson
I. O. Benediktsson
A. Schomacker
L. K. Zoet
Mark D. Johnson
T. S. Hooyer
O. Ingolfsson
Published in Quaternary Science Reviews
Volume 148
Pages 243-260
ISSN 0277-3791
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 243-260
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2016...
Keywords Glacier, Drumlin, Mulajokull, Till, Fabric, Consolidation, surge-type glacier, subglacial sediment deformation, ice stream b, magnetic-susceptibility, new-york, beneath glaciers, western ireland, low-temperature, ring-shear, soft-bed, Physical Geography, Geology
Subject categories Geology

Abstract

Stratigraphic and morphologic data previously collected from the forefleld of Millajokull, Iceland, suggest that its recent surge cycles are responsible for the formation of drumlins there and that their relief reflects both deposition on drumlins and erosion between them. We have tested these ideas and aspects of leading models of drumlin formation by studying past patterns of bed deformation and effective stress in basal tills of the glacier's forefield. Patterns of till strain indicated by the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) of similar to 2300 intact till samples indicate that till was deposited during shear deformation, with shearing azimuths and planes that conform to the drumlin morphology. Thus, till deposition occurred as drumlins grew, in agreement with LiDAR data indicating that the degree of aggradation of the glacier forefleld is largest in areas subjected to the most surges. Previously described unconformities on the drumlin flanks, however, indicate that drumlin relief at Mulajokull has resulted, in part, from erosion. Given that the last surge deposited a till layer both on and between drumlins, a reasonable hypothesis is that erosion between drumlins occurred during normal (quiescent) flow of the glacier between surges. Densities of till samples, analyzed in conjunction with laboratory consolidation tests, indicate that effective stresses on the bed during such periods were on the order of 100 kPa larger between drumlins than within them, an observation consistent with subglacial channels at low water pressure occupying interdrumlin areas. Transport of sediment by turbulent flow in these channels or high effective stress adjacent to them causing enhanced till entrainment in ice or increased depths of bed deformation would promote the sediment flux divergence necessary to erode areas between drumlins. The observation that effective stresses were higher between drumlins than within them is the opposite of that presumed in leading models of drumlin formation. Moreover, the lack of AMS-fabric evidence of longitudinal compression in drumlin tills does not support some models of drumlin formation that invoke negative till-flux gradients in a deforming bed.

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