Subglacial bathymetry and sediment layer distribution beneath the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, West Antarctica, modeled using aerogravity and autonomous underwater vehicle data

A. Muto, S. Anandakrishnan, and R. B. Alley

Annals of Glaciology (1 September 2013)

DOI: 10.3189/2013aog64a110

Pine Island Glacier (PIG), West Antarctica, has been experiencing acceleration in its flow speed and mass loss for nearly two decades, driven in part by an increase in the delivery of relatively warm Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW). However, at present, the configuration of the sub-ice-shelf cavity and bed conditions beneath the PIG ice shelf that dictate such oceanic influences remain poorly understood. Here, we use aerogravity data and ocean bottom depths measured by an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to model the bathymetry and sediment layer thickness beneath the PIG ice shelf. Results reveal that the deep basins, previously found by AUV on both landward and seaward sides of a submarine ridge, extend substantially to the north and south. The water column thickness of the basins reaches 400–550 m on the landward side of the ridge and 500–600 m on the seaward side. The sediment layer covers the whole expanse of the seabed beneath the ice shelf, and the thickness is in the range ∼200–1000 m. The thinnest sediments (<200 m) are found on the seaward slope of the submarine ridge, suggesting that erosion by advancing ice may have been concentrated in the lee of the topographic high.

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