We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Lane, T.P., Roberts, D.H., Rea, B.R., Ó Cofaigh, C. & Vieli, A. Controls on subglacial bedrock bedform development at the base of the Uummannaq Ice Stream, West Greenland. Geomorphology. 2015;231:301-313.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper investigates the controls on the formation of subglacially eroded bedrock bedforms beneath the topographically confined region upstream of the Uummannaq Ice Stream (UIS). During the last glacial cycle, palaeoglaciological conditions are believed to have been similar for all sites in the study, characterised by thick, fast-flowing ice moving over a rigid bedrock bed. Classic bedrock bedforms indicative of glacially eroded terrain were mapped, including p-forms, roches moutonnées, and whalebacks. Bedform long axes and plucked face orientations display close correlation (parallel and perpendicular) to palaeo-ice flow directions inferred from striae measurements. Across all sites, elongation ratios (length to width) varied by an order of magnitude between 0.8:1 and 8.4:1. Bedform properties (length, height, width, and long axis orientation) from four subsample areas, form morphometrically distinct populations, despite their close proximity and hypothesised similarity in palaeoglaciological conditions.

Variations in lithology and geological structures (e.g., joint frequency; joint dip; joint orientation; bedding plane thickness; and bedding plane dip) provide lines of geological weakness, which focus the glacial erosion, in turn controlling bedform geometries. Determining the relationship (s) between bedding plane dip relative to palaeo-ice flow and bedform shape, relative length, amplitude, and wavelength has important ramifications for understanding subglacial bed roughness, cavity formation, and likely erosion style (quarrying and/or abrasion) at the ice-bed interface. This paper demonstrates a direct link between bedrock bedform geometries and geological structure and emphasises the need to understand bedrock bedform characteristics when reconstructing palaeoglaciological conditions.

Department of Geography