Rapid ice loss is facilitated by sliding over beds consisting of reworked sediments and erosional products, commonly referred to as till. The dynamic interplay between ice and till reshapes the bed, creating landforms preserved from past glaciations. Leveraging the imprint left by past glaciations as constraints for projecting future deglaciation is hindered by our incomplete understanding of evolving basal slip. Here, we develop a continuum model of water-saturated, cohesive till to quantify the interplay between meltwater percolation and till mobilization that governs changes in the depth of basal slip under fast-moving ice. Our model explains the puzzling variability of observed slip depths by relating localized till deformation to perturbations in pore-water pressure. It demonstrates that variable slip depth is an inherent property of the ice-meltwater-till system, which could help understand why some paleo-landforms like grounding-zone wedges appear to have formed quickly relative to current till-transport rates.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)
- Environmental Science (all)