Structural evolution during a surge in the Paulabreen glacier system, Svalbard

Harold Lovell*, Edward J. Fleming

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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We assess the evolution of glaciological structures during the 2003-2005 surge in the Paulabreen glacier system, Svalbard. Glaciological structures on the glacier surface were mapped using aerial photographs captured in the early stages of the surge (2003) and five years after surge termination (2011). Three-dimensional measurements of glaciological structures were collected at the tidewater front in 2013. These datasets document the physical changes during (1) the late quiescent phase; (2) the early phase of the surge as the surge front propagated down Skobreen and advanced into Paulabreen; and (3) the final stages of the surge following the surge front reaching the glacier terminus. Crevasse patterns and clusters of arcuate shear planes record zones of compressive and extensional flow associated with the downglacier progression of the surge front. The transfer of surging ice from Skobreen into Paulabreen caused lateral displacement of the medial moraines to the NE. At the ice front, this movement tilted glaciological structures in the same direction. Structures at the SW margin record strike-slip faulting and the elevation of debris into the ice in a zone of compression and transpression. We summarise these observations in a schematic reconstruction of structural evolution during the surge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-152
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number273
Early online date14 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • glacier surge
  • structural glaciology
  • Arctic glaciology
  • UKRI
  • NERC
  • NE/I528050/1
  • NE/H004963/1


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