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Deformation of polycrystalline D2O ice: Its sensitivity to temperature and strain-rate as an analogue for terrestrial ice

Journal article
Authors Christopher J.L. Wilson
Mark Peternell
Nicholas J.R. Hunter
Vladimir Luzin
Published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 532
ISSN 0012821X
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Language en
Keywords crystallographic preferred orientation, deuterated ice, grain-size evolution, microstructure, strain-rate, texture
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Polycrystalline deuterated ice (D2O) was deformed over a range of high-temperatures (−20 to −1 °C; 0.92–0.99Tm) during in situ neutron diffraction texture and grain-size analysis. This allowed for a continuous monitoring of the evolution of rheology, texture, grain-numbers and the type of microstructures, which are compared to those encountered in basal sections of ice-sheets. We quantify the textural evolution with J-index changes as a function of strain-rate and temperature. Three sets of unconfined samples were deformed at displacement rates of 1×10−5 s−1 (fast) 2.5×10−6 s−1 (medium) and 6×10−7 s−1 (slow). Dislocation creep is proposed as the main deformation mechanism with sub-grain rotation more significant at lower temperatures (0.92Tm) and/or higher strain-rates. At higher-temperatures (0.99Tm) and/or lower strain-rates dynamic recrystallization is dominated by grain boundary migration, typified by grains with highly curved or lobate grain boundaries, and leading to rheological softening of the ice. From initially randomly oriented [c]-axes, a texture comprising 30–35° cones parallel to the compression axis develops, which is comparable to textures observed in the upper levels of polar ice-sheets. There is also a strain-rate dependence on the development of normalized [c]-axis intensities, which is in competition with strain magnitude and temperature. At lower temperatures (≤10 °C), small increments of strain or slower strain-rates, the cone-angle and textural strength decrease with a dominant textural component parallel to the compression axis. This may be an explanation for the vertical [c]-axis concentrations observed in polar ice cores.

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