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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Research project: Subglacial Shear Zones

Currently Active: 

Glacier behaviour is partially controlled by the interaction of subglacial sediments and water. By investigating glacial sediments at the field scale combined with the microscale (thin section and SEM) we can reconstruct subglacial processes, from both modern and Quaternary sediments

The interaction of water and sediment at the glacier base control glacier behaviour and the resultant till sedimentology. In situ subglacial experiments and geophysical techniques have demonstrated how water pressures can change on a daily and seasonal scale, and that the glacier bed is made up of a continuously varying mosaic of deforming and non-deforming.

Many glaciers move over a weak deforming layer which behaves as a shear zone with deformation by simple shear with associated rotation and extension. This occurs on both the field scale, as well as the microscale, where it can be studied by thin-section analysis and scanning electron microscope (SEM). It is also possible to investigate 3D behaviour by the use the University of Southampton CT scanner.

Recent research locations:

  • Briksdalsbreen, Norway
  • North Norfolk coast
  • Henty valley, Tasmania
  • South Wales
  • Skalafellsjökull, Iceland

Please see Media for examples.

Related research groups

Earth Surface Dynamics

Key Publications

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