Subglacial discharge at tidewater glaciers revealed by seismic tremor

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 



Subglacial discharge influences glacier basal motion and erodes and redeposits sediment. At tidewater glacier termini, discharge drives submarine terminus melting, affects fjord circulation, and is a central component of proglacial marine ecosystems. However, our present inability to track subglacial discharge and its variability significantly hinders our understanding of these processes. Here we report observations of hourly to seasonal variations in 1.5–10 Hz seismic tremor that strongly correlate with subglacial discharge but not with basal motion, weather, or discrete icequakes. Our data demonstrate that vigorous discharge occurs from tidewater glaciers during summer, in spite of fast basal motion that could limit the formation of subglacial conduits, and then abates during winter. Furthermore, tremor observations and a melt model demonstrate that drainage efficiency of tidewater glaciers evolves seasonally. Glaciohydraulic tremor provides a means by which to quantify subglacial discharge variations and offers a promising window into otherwise obscured glacierized environments.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Subglacial discharge at tidewater glaciers revealed by seismic tremor
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2015GL064590
Volume 42
Issue 15
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Water
Description 8 p.
First page 6391
Last page 6398
Country Greenland, United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Columbia Glacier, Hubbard Glacier, Jakobshavn Isbræ, Mendenhall Glacier, Yahtse Glacier, Yakutat Glacier
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table