The Holocene retreat dynamics and stability of Petermann Glacier in northwest Greenland

New publication by Martin Jakobsson, Kelly A. Hogan, Larry A. Mayer, Alan Mix, Anne Jennings, Joe Stoner, Björn Eriksson, Kevin Jerram, Rezwan Mohammad, Christof Pearce, Brendan Reilly & Christian Stranne

2018.05.30 | Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen


Submarine glacial landforms in fjords are imprints of the dynamic behaviour of marine-terminating glaciers and are informative about their most recent retreat phase. Here we use detailed multibeam bathymetry to map glacial landforms in Petermann Fjord and Nares Strait, northwestern Greenland. A large grounding-zone wedge (GZW) demonstrates that Petermann Glacier stabilised at the fjord mouth for a considerable time, likely buttressed by an ice shelf. This stability was followed by successive backstepping of the ice margin down the GZW’s retrograde backslope forming small retreat ridges to 680 m current depth (∼730–800 m palaeodepth). Iceberg ploughmarks occurring somewhat deeper show that thick, grounded ice persisted to these water depths before final breakup occurred. The palaeodepth limit of the recessional moraines is consistent with final collapse driven by marine ice cliff instability (MICI) with retreat to the next stable position located underneath the present Petermann ice tongue, where the seafloor is unmapped.

Nature Communicationsvolume 9, Article number: 2104 (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04573-2

Arctic Research Centre