This document provides a methodology for extracting grain statistics from 8-bit color and grayscale images of thin sections of glacier ice—a subset of physical properties measurements typically performed on ice cores. This type of analysis is most commonly used to characterize the evolution of ice-crystal size, shape, and intercrystalline spatial relations within a large body of ice sampled by deep ice-coring projects from which paleoclimate records will be developed. However, such information is equally useful for investigating the stress state and physical responses of ice to stresses within a glacier. The methods of analysis presented here go hand-in-hand with the analysis of ice fabrics (aggregate crystal orientations) and, when combined with fabric analysis, provide a powerful method for investigating the dynamic recrystallization and deformation behaviors of bodies of ice in motion.
The procedures described in this document compose a step-by-step handbook for a specific image acquisition and data reduction system built in support of U.S. Geological Survey ice analysis projects, but the general methodology can be used with any combination of image processing and analysis software. The specific approaches in this document use the FoveaPro 4 plug-in toolset to Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended but it can be carried out equally well, though somewhat less conveniently, with software such as the image processing toolbox in MATLAB, Image-Pro Plus, or ImageJ.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Digital-image processing and image analysis of glacier ice
Techniques and Methods
U.S. Geological Survey
Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center