Calving and rifting

One of the newest areas of research for the group is the mechanics of fracture in glacier ice. Fracturing is prevalent in glacier ice. Surface crevasses produce spectacular patterns, allow for pooling of water, and are hazards to travel. Crevasses extending up from the base of the ice reduce the flexural rigidity and can lead to calving. The calving of icebergs is the culmination of fracture propagation and a primary mechanism of mass loss in marine-terminating glaciers. Rifts are full-thickness fractures that propagate horizontally in ice shelves, the floating extensions of glaciers and ice sheets, and can eventually lead to the formation of massive tabular icebergs. 

We are in the process of building a foundation in fracture mechanics focused research and have chosen to focus on two fundamentally different natural experiments that will provide further insight into the mechanisms and conditions of fracture. Check back later for updates on this work.