High-resolution hydrothermal structure of Hansbreen, Spitsbergen, mapped by ground-penetrating radar

J. C. Moore, A. Pälli, F. Ludwig, H. Blatter, J. Jania, B. Gadek, P. Glowacki, D. Mochnacki, E. Isaksson

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72 Citations (Scopus)


Detailed ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys at 50 and 200 MHz on Hansbreen, a polythermal glacier in southern Svalbard, are presented and interpreted. Comparison of the variations in character of the radar reflections with borehole thermometry and water levels in moulins suggests that GPR can be used to study the hydrothermal properties of the glacier. The high resolution of the GPR data shows that the hydrothermal structure of the glacier is highly variable both along the centre line and on transverse profiles. Water contents for many places and depths within the glacier were calculated by estimating radar-wave velocities to point reflectors. We find typical water contents of 1-2% for the temperate ice, but wetter ice associated with surface crevassing and moulins (typically 4% water content). There is evidence that wet ice sometimes overlays drier ice. The hydrothermal structure is thus shown to be very complex. Temperature gradients in the cold ice indicate freezing rates of temperate ice below cold ice of 0.1-0.5 m a-1, while isolated point reflectors within the cold ice indicate large water-filled bodies that are probably related to the regular drainage structure of the glacier.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-532
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number151
Publication statusPublished - 1999
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Field of science

  • Geosciences


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