Glacier naled evolution and relation to the subglacial drainage system based on water chemistry and GPR surveys (Werenskioldbreen, SW Svalbard)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAnnals of glaciology, 57(72), 19-30 10.1017/aog.2016.9
Glacier naledi are extrusive ice masses that appear in front of glaciers as a consequence of refreezing of meltwater seepage during the accumulation season. These structures provide a unique opportunity to understand subglacial drainage activity during the accumulation season; however, only few detailed studies have previously focused on their characteristics. Here, we investigated glacier-derived naled assemblages in the proglacial zone of the polythermal glacier Werenskioldbreen (27.4 km2) in SW Svalbard. We determined the spatial distribution of naledi using ground penetrating radar surveys. The main subglacial drainage pattern was related to a channel under the medial moraine, and three sources are linked to a distributed subglacial drainage network. The relation between atmospherically-corrected (Ca2+ + Mg2+) and (SO42−) in sub-naled waters was closely related to sulphide oxidation coupled with carbonate dissolution (r = 0.99; slope = 1.6). This is consistent with the local lithology, which is dominated by schist containing carbonates. We also found high carbonate saturation indices in pale white ice layers within the naled. We conclude that sulphide oxidation coupled with carbonate dissolution is the dominant chemical weathering process in the subglacial drainage system of Werenskioldbreen during the accumulation season.