Basal-crevasse-fill origin of laminated debris bands at Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A

Staci L. Ensminger, Richard B. Alley, Edward B. Evenson, Daniel E. Lawson, Grahame J. Larson

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36 Scopus citations


The numerous debris bands in the terminus region of Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A., were formed by injection of turbid meltwaters into basal crevasses. The debris bands are millimeter(s) -thick layers of silt-rich ice cross-cutting older, debris-poor englacial ice. The sediment grain-size distribution of the debris bands closely resembles the suspended load of basal waters, and of basal and proglacial ice grown from basal waters, but does not resemble supraglacial debris, till or the bedload of subglacial streams. Most debris bands contain anthropogenic tritium (3H) in concentrations similar to those of basal meltwater and ice formed from that meltwater, but cross-cut englacial ice lacking tritium. Stable-isotopic ratios (δ18O and δD) of debris-band ice are consistent with freezing from basal waters, but are distinct from those in englacial ice. Ice petrofabric data along one debris band lack evidence of active shearing. High basal water pressures and locally extensional ice flow associated with overdeepened subglacial basins favor basal crevasse formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-422
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number158
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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