Seminar Series

Internal structure and water routing contrasts between a debris-covered glacier and a rock glacier using multiple geophysical methods in a semiarid glacier complex


Gonzalo Navarro, Shelley MacDonell & Rémi Valois


Lincoln University

Time & Place

Thu, 22 Sep 2022 16:00:54 NZST in ER 263


Rock glaciers are the most abundant glacial landform in the Semiarid Andes (SA, 27-34°S), covering about three times the area of mountain glaciers. Recent studies suggest they possibly play an important hydrological role, including producing, routing and storing water. However, the details of this role are still contentious. These processes are also particularly complicated in glacier complexes (ie where there is a juxtaposition of glacial types and landforms), which are common in semiarid areas like the Dry Andes or Himalayas. This study aims to determine internal structure and potential hydrological routing pathways of different glacial landforms, using a series of geophysical surveys in the Tapado glacier complex, Chilean SA (30°S, >4200 m asl). The results suggest that while the debris-covered glacier shows probable hydrological routing zones exclusively in the area above the buried massive ice, the rock glacier would have more hydrological transfer routes downstream due to its fragmented ice structure, with vertical passages that could conduct water channeled from the thawing ice or from water coming from upstream, and with sub-horizontal pathways beneath the main ice-rock bodies. This work contributes to a better understanding of the hydrology of headwaters catchments in dry environments, where runoff is originated and where complex interactions between diverse landforms occur.

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