Experimental deformation of deuterated ice in 3D and 2D: Identification of grain-scale processes

Christopher J L Wilson*, Vladimir Luzin, Sandra Piazolo, Mark Peternell, Daniel Hammes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Major polar ice sheets and ice caps experience cycles of variable flow during different glacial periods and as a response to past warming. The rate and localisation of deformation inside an ice body controls the evolution of ice microstructure and crystallographic fabric. This is critical for interpreting proxy signals for climate change, with deformation overprinting and disrupting stratigraphy deep under ice caps due to the nature of the flow. The final crystallographic fabric in polar ice sheets provides a record of deformation history, which in turn controls the flow properties of ice during further deformation and affects geophysical sensing of ice sheets. For example, identification of layering in ice sheets, using seismic or ice radar techniques, is attributed to grain size changes and fabric variations. Such information has been used to provide information on climate state and its changes over time, and as the Fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report (Solomon et al. 2007) points out there is currently still a lack of understanding of internal ice-sheet dynamics. To answer this we have recently conducted experiments at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to collect fully quantitative microstructural data from polycrystalline heavy water (D2O) ice deformed in a dynamic regime. The ice and temperature (-7°C) chosen for this study is used as a direct analogue for deforming natural-water ice as it offers a unique opportunity to link grain size and texture evolution in natural ice at-10°C. Results show a dynamic system where steady-state rheology is not necessarily coupled to microstructural and crystallographic fabric stability. This link needs to be taken into account to improve ice-mass-deformation modelling critical for climate change predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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