Subglacial clast/bed contact forces

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Byers, John
Cohen, Denis
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Iverson, Neal
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Geological and Atmospheric Sciences

The Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences offers majors in three areas: Geology (traditional, environmental, or hydrogeology, for work as a surveyor or in mineral exploration), Meteorology (studies in global atmosphere, weather technology, and modeling for work as a meteorologist), and Earth Sciences (interdisciplinary mixture of geology, meteorology, and other natural sciences, with option of teacher-licensure).

The Department of Geology and Mining was founded in 1898. In 1902 its name changed to the Department of Geology. In 1965 its name changed to the Department of Earth Science. In 1977 its name changed to the Department of Earth Sciences. In 1989 its name changed to the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences.

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  • Department of Geology and Mining (1898-1902)
  • Department of Geology (1902-1965)
  • Department of Earth Science (1965-1977)
  • Department of Earth Sciences (1977-1989)

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A laboratory device was built to measure the forces that ice exerts on a 0.05 m diameter rigid plastic sphere in two different configurations: in contact with a flat bed or isolated from the bed. Measurements indicated that bed-normal contact forces were 1.8 times larger than drag forces due to creeping flow past a slippery sphere isolated from the bed. Measurements of forces as a function of the bed-normal ice velocity, estimations of the ice viscosity parameter and observations of markers in the ice indicate ice is Newtonian with a viscosity of ∼1.3 × 1011 Pa s. Newtonian behavior is expected due to small and transient stresses. A model of regelation indicates that it had a negligible (<5%) influence on forces. Water pressure in the cavity beneath the sphere in contact with the bed had a likewise negligible influence on contact forces. When no cavity is present, drag forces can be correctly estimated using Stokes's law (Newtonian viscosity) for a slippery sphere. The same law with a bed-enhancement factor of 1.8 is appropriate for estimating bed-normal contact forces. These results reinforce previous laboratory measurements and theories but provide no support for explanations of high debris/bed friction or rates of abrasion that depend on high contact forces.


This article is from Journal of Glaciology 58 (2012): 89, doi:10.3189/2012JoG11J126. Posted with permission.

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Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2012