Geomorphology | 2019
Kuannersuit Glacier revisited: Constraining ice dynamics, landform formations and glaciomorphological changes in the early quiescent phase following the 1995–98 surge event
Abstract Kuannersuit Glacier in west Greenland experienced a major surge in 1995–1998, where the glacier advanced 10.5\u202fkm down-valley. In this paper, we examine how the quiescent phase has progressed until 2015 with respect to ice dynamics, landform formations and glaciomorphological changes. In the initial quiescent phase (2001–2005), ice velocities along the center flowline were 37–55% higher than ice velocities (6.3–9.0\u202fm\u202fyr−1) in 2005–2015, and a linear relationship between ice velocity and distance from the glacier front, which existed during the initial quiescent phase, had disappeared in 2005–2015. Between 2001 and 2015, the post-surge glacier tongue thinned by 84.0\u202f±\u202f6.3\u202fm, equal to 6.0\u202f±\u202f0.5\u202fm\u202fyr−1. The 30-m high terminal moraine detached from the active glacier along the uppermost thrust band between 2005 and 2015, after which the glacier front receded 1.5\u202fkm. Between the terminal moraine and the glacier front, observations suggested that a proximal outwash plain was forming on top of glacier ice and that glacier naled (icing, aufeis) was incorporated into the outwash plain. In less dynamic areas with gently sloping topography along the lateral glacier margins, crevasse-squeeze ridges were melting out. The most prominent glaciomorphological feature in 2015 was a c. 1-km long gorge with c. 30–40\u202fm high ice cliffs. This gorge had formed into the glacier front, following the collapse of a series of chasms above the main subglacial channel. Roof collapse processes above subglacial channels had a significant impact on the glacier s mass loss and on the glaciomorphology during the quiescent phase. Earlier observations from 1913 suggest that the formation of this gorge is a reoccurring phenomenon during the quiescent phase. A lower pothole field on the glacier tongue that existed during the initial quiescent phase had completely disappeared in 2015, while a larger upper pothole field in the reservoir area prevailed. During the initial quiescent phase, the subglacial drainage system developed into a stable channelized network, although a jokulhlaup from a large ice-dammed lake occurred. This single event was dated to have occurred between 11 and 13 August 2006, and the lake did not refill. The spatiotemporal association and evolution of glacial and glaciomorphological landforms at Kuannersuit Glacier are likely similar to processes at many other surging and rapidly receding glaciers of similar size.