Geological and Atmospheric Sciences
Journal or Book Title
Annals of Glaciology
Quarrying and abrasion are the two principal processes responsible for glacial erosion of bedrock. The morphologies of glacier hard beds depend on the relative effectiveness of these two processes, as abrasion tends to smooth bedrock surfaces and quarrying tends to roughen them. Here we analyze concentrations of bedrock discontinuities in the Tsanfleuron forefield, Switzerland, to help determine the geologic conditions that favor glacial quarrying over abrasion. Aerial discontinuity concentrations are measured from scaled drone-based photos where fractures and bedding planes in the bedrock are manually mapped. A Tukey honest significant difference test indicates that aerial concentration of bed-normal bedrock discontinuities is not significantly different between quarried and non-quarried areas of the forefield. Thus, an alternative explanation is needed to account for the spatial variability of quarried areas. To investigate the role that bed-parallel discontinuities might play in quarrying, we use a finite element model to simulate bed-normal fracture propagation within a stepped bed with different step heights. Results indicate that higher steps (larger spacing of bed-parallel discontinuities) propagate bed-normal fractures more readily than smaller steps. Thus, the spacing of bed-parallel discontinuities could exert strong control on quarrying by determining the rate that blocks can be loosened from the host rock.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Woodard, J. B.; Zoet, L. K.; Iverson, Neal R.; and Helanow, C., "Linking bedrock discontinuities to glacial quarrying" (2019). Geological and Atmospheric Sciences Publications. 295.