In 1981 and 1982, detailed bathymetric and side-scan sonar surveys were made of an area of the sea floor north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to study the changing characteristics of the seabed at the inner boundary of the stamukhi zone, the coast-parallel zone of grounded ice ridges that occurs in water depths between 15 and 50 m in the arctic. The fathograms and sonographs resolved 10-cm features and electronic navigation gave relocations accurate to about 10 m. Year after year an ice boundary develops at the inner edge of the stamukhi zone where major shear and pressure deformation occur in about the same location. Associated with this ice boundary, the bathymetry shows a pronounced break in slope - the knickpoint - on the shelf profile at about 20 m depth. The 2-3 m-high knickpoint is cut in a consolidated gravelly mud of pre-Holocene age. A well-defined gravel and cobble shoal a few meters high usually occurs at the inshore edge of the knickpoint. The sonograph mosaic shows that seaward of the knickpoint, ice gouges saturate the sea floor and are well defined; inshore the gouges are fewer in number and are poorly defined on the records. Few gouges can be traced from the seaward side of the knickpoint across the shoals to the inshore side of the knickpoint. Studies of ice gouging rates in two seabed corridors that cross the stamukhi zone reveal the highest rates of gouging seaward of the knickpoint. We believe that the knickpoint results from ice erosion at the inner boundary of the stamukhi zone. Intensified currents associated with this boundary winnow away fine sediments. Ice bulldozing and currents shape the shoals, which perch atop the knickpoint. The knickpoint helps to limit ice forces on the seabed inshore of the stamukhi zone. ?? 1987.
Additional publication details
Ice erosion of a sea-floor knickpoint at the inner edge of the stamukhi zone, Beaufort Sea, Alaska