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Reconstructing patterns of bedrock glacial erosion and Lateglacial glacier extents in the Alps with field mapping and cosmogenic 10Be, 14C, and 36Cl analyses

English title Reconstructing patterns of bedrock glacial erosion and Lateglacial glacier extents in the Alps with field mapping and cosmogenic 10Be, 14C, and 36Cl analyses
Applicant Ivy-Ochs Susan
Number 156187
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Labor für Ionenstrahlphysik ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geology
Start/End 01.10.2014 - 30.09.2017
Approved amount 207'253.00
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Keywords (9)

subglacial erosion; cosmogenic nuclides; Alpine Lateglacial; European Alps; 10Be 14C 36Cl; Holocene; Last Glacial Maximum; overdeepening; cirque formation

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
The unique and immediately recognizable shape of the Alps, the deep U-shaped valleys separated by narrow serrated ridges, the cross-valley bedrock riegels and overdeepenings, and the rounded bowl-shapes of the cirques are direct evidence of the work of glaciers. In this project we aim to understand the temporal and spatial patterns of modification of the Alps by glaciers. We have two foci: 1) to investigate how fast and in what patterns valley and cirque glaciers erode their bedrock beds, and 2) to elucidate the extent and timing of extreme cold events revealed as glacier expansions in the Alps since the end of the last large-scale glaciation about 18,000 years ago.
Lay summary

Die einzigartige und charakteristische Form der Alpen, die tiefen, durch scharfe gezackte Grate getrennten U-Täler, die Riegel und Übertiefungen sowie die gerundeten Formen der Kare stellen direkte Beweise der Arbeit der Gletscher dar. Unser Projekt zielt auf ein vertieftes Verständnis der zeitlichen und räumlichen Muster dieser Veränderung der Alpen durch Gletscher ab. Dabei sehen wir zwei Schwerpunkte für unserer Untersuchungen vor: 1) Geschwindigkeit und Muster mit denen Tal- und Kargletscher den anstehenden Fels erodieren; 2) Ausdehnung und Timing der extremen Kälteperioden, die sich in den Alpen in Form von Gletscherausdehnungen nach der letzten grossen Vergletscherung vor etwa 18'000 Jahren manifestieren.

Um zu verstehen wie die Alpen durch Gletscher geformt wurden setzen wir detaillierte geomorphologische Kartierungen, sedimentologische Untersuchungen, ArcGIS-basierte morphometrische Analysen sowie die Bestimmung und Modellierung kosmogener Nuklide ein. Diese Nuklide entstehen in Gestein, das kosmischer Strahlung ausgesetzt ist. Die Dauer dieser Exposition kann durch Messung der Nuklidkonzentration bestimmt werden. Wir verwenden kosmogene Nuklide sowohl als Chronometer (Expositionsdatierung von Blöcken auf Moränen) wie auch zur Bestimmung der glazialen Erosionstiefe im anstehenden Gestein. Dies wird ermöglicht durch Kombination von Nukliden (10Be, 36Cl, 14C) mit unterschiedlichen Halbwertszeiten und Produktionsraten als Funktion der Eindringtiefe. Die Informationen über die Dynamik der Gletscherausdehnungen in der Vergangenheit wird uns helfen die Reaktion der Alpengletscher auf Klimavariationen (insbesondere Änderungen in der nordatlantischen Zirkulation) zu verstehen. Die Wahl der Untersuchungsstandorte im Feld erlaubt Nord-Süd Vergleiche über den Alpenbogen. 

 

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 05.11.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Subglacial abrasion rates at Goldbergkees, Hohe Tauern, Austria, determined from cosmogenic 10Be and 36Cl concentrations
Wirsig Christian, Ivy-Ochs Susan, Reitner Jürgen M., Christl Marcus, Vockenhuber Christof, Bichler Mathias, Reindl Martin (2017), Subglacial abrasion rates at Goldbergkees, Hohe Tauern, Austria, determined from cosmogenic 10Be and 36Cl concentrations, in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 42(7), 1119-1131.
Constraining the timing of deglaciation of the High Alps and rates of subglacial erosion with cosmogenic nuclides
Wirsig Christian (2017), Constraining the timing of deglaciation of the High Alps and rates of subglacial erosion with cosmogenic nuclides, in Quaternary Science Journal, 65(2), th 1-th 2.
Combined cosmogenic 10Be, in situ 14C and 36Cl concentrations constrain Holocene history and erosion depth of Grueben glacier (CH)
Wirsig Christian, Ivy-Ochs Susan, Akçar Naki, Lupker Maarten, Hippe Kristina, Wacker Lukas, Vockenhuber Christof, Schlüchter Christian (2016), Combined cosmogenic 10Be, in situ 14C and 36Cl concentrations constrain Holocene history and erosion depth of Grueben glacier (CH), in Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 109(3), 379-388.
Dating the onset of LGM ice surface lowering in the High Alps
Wirsig Christian, Zasadni Jerzy, Christl Marcus, Akçar Naki, Ivy-Ochs Susan (2016), Dating the onset of LGM ice surface lowering in the High Alps, in Quaternary Science Reviews, 143, 37-50.
Landslide deposits as stratigraphical markers for a sequence-based glacial stratigraphy: a case study of a Younger Dryas system in the Eastern Alps
Bichler Mathias, Reindl Martin, Reitner Jürgen M., Drescher-Schneider Ruth, Wirsig Christian, Christl Marcus, Hajdas Irka, Ivy-Ochs Susan (2016), Landslide deposits as stratigraphical markers for a sequence-based glacial stratigraphy: a case study of a Younger Dryas system in the Eastern Alps, in Boreas, 45(3), 537-551.
A deglaciation model of the Oberhasli, Switzerland
Wirsig Christian, Zasadni Jerzy, Ivy-Ochs Susan, Christl Marcus, Kober Florian, Schlüchter Christian (2016), A deglaciation model of the Oberhasli, Switzerland, in Journal of Quaternary Science, 31(1), 46-59.
Glacier variations in the European Alps at the end of the last glaciation
Ivy-Ochs Susan (2015), Glacier variations in the European Alps at the end of the last glaciation, in Cuadernos de investigación geográfica, 41(2), 295-315.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
NAGRA Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Earth Surface Dynamics/ERDW ETHZ Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Department of Geosciences | Università di Padova Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Institute of Geological Sciences/ University of Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Geologische Bundesanstalt Vienna Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Geography and Geology/ University of Salzburg Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environment Protection/ AGH University of Science and Technology Poland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
14th Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2016 Poster Dating the stabilisation age of relict rockglaciers 18.11.2017 Geneva, Switzerland Ivy-Ochs Susan; Steinemann Olivia;
AMS14 2017 Poster Using 10Be exposure dating to determine the stabilization age of relict rockglaciers 14.08.2017 Ottawa, Canada Steinemann Olivia; Ivy-Ochs Susan;
International conference of permafrost 2016 (ICOP) Poster Regional climatic significance of relict rock glaciers in the Eastern Alps 20.06.2017 Potsdam, Germany Ivy-Ochs Susan; Steinemann Olivia;
EGU General Assembly 2017 Poster Using cosmogenic nuclides to date the stabilisation age of relict rockglaciers 23.04.2017 Vienna, Austria Ivy-Ochs Susan; Steinemann Olivia;
EGU General Assembly 2017 Individual talk How well do we really know the timing and extent of glaciers during the Last Glacial Maximum in the Alps? 23.04.2017 Vienna, Austria Ivy-Ochs Susan;
Third Nordic workshop in cosmogenic nuclide techniques 2016 Individual talk 30 years of cosmogenic nuclides in geochronology 08.06.2016 Stockholm, Sweden Ivy-Ochs Susan;
Third Nordic workshop in cosmogenic nuclide techniques 2016 Poster Use of cosmogenic nuclides to date relict rock glaciers 08.06.2016 Stockholm, Sweden Ivy-Ochs Susan; Steinemann Olivia;
13th Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2015 Talk given at a conference Quantifying subglacial erosion rates at Goldbergkees, Hohe Tauern (Austria) with cosmogenic 10Be and 36Cl 20.11.2015 Basel, Switzerland Wirsig Christian; Ivy-Ochs Susan;
DPG Frühjahrstagung 2015 Talk given at a conference Erkenntnisse über die Geschichte eines Alpengletschers durch Kombination von kosmogenem Be-10, in-situ C-14 und Cl-36 23.03.2015 Heidelberg, Germany Wirsig Christian; Ivy-Ochs Susan;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Oral presentation and tour for gymnasium students Kantonsschule Wettingen 2017 Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 08.11.2017 Ion Beam Physics ETH, Switzerland Steinemann Olivia; Ivy-Ochs Susan;
Schalensteine im Gebiet Andeer Talk 09.06.2017 Andeer, Switzerland Ivy-Ochs Susan;
Oral presentation and tour for gymnasium students Kantonsschule Büelrain Winterthur 2016 Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 04.03.2016 Ion Beam Physics, Switzerland Steinemann Olivia;
Oral presentation and tour for gymnasium students Kantonsschule Rämibühl Zürich 2016 Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 10.02.2016 Ion Beam Physics ETH, Switzerland Ivy-Ochs Susan; Steinemann Olivia;
Oral presentation and tour for gymnasium students Kantonsschule Rämibühl Zürich 2015 Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 04.02.2015 Ion Beam Physics, Switzerland Ivy-Ochs Susan;
Oral presentation and tour for gymnasium students Kantonsschule Wettingen 2014 Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 05.11.2014 Ion Beam Physics, Switzerland Ivy-Ochs Susan;


Awards

Title Year
ETH Silver Medal PhD dissertation 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
135448 Tracking glacial erosion and glacier occupation in the Alps with the unique combination of measurement and modeling of 10Be, 14C, and 36Cl in bedrock 01.09.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
158288 Multiple cosmogenic nuclides (10Be, in situ 14C) in sedimentary systems: Effective tracers for sediment routing and storage 01.05.2015 Marie Heim-Voegtlin grants
175794 Deciphering the timing and dynamics of glacier advances in the Alps during the Last Glacial Maximum with cosmogenic nuclide dating: a north-south perspective 01.10.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The unique and immediately recognizable shape of the Alps, the deep U-shaped valleys separated by narrow serrated ridges, the stepped longitudinal valley profiles, and the rounded bowl-shape of the cirques are the direct evidence of the power of glaciers. Fundamental knowledge on how glaciers change landscape, erode down into their valleys, and generate sediment all depend on quantitative understanding of how fast glaciers erode at their base. As in SNF-funded project 200021-135448, we combine detailed geomorphological mapping, sedimentological study, ArcGIS-based morphometric analysis with cosmogenic nuclide measurements to understand the temporal and spatial patterns of modification of the Alps by glaciers. We take advantage of the capabilities of cosmogenic nuclides to be used as both chronometers (10Be) and tools for determining depth of glacial erosion into bedrock (combination of 10Be, 36Cl and 14C). 36Cl is useful because it is produced at greater quantities than 10Be peaking about 30 cm down into rock. Our results from the project indicate that the mismatch of 10Be and 36Cl can be used to reveal how deeply a glacier has eroded. In situ 14C in quartz is required for Holocene cirque sites to determine how long the glacier covered the cirque floor during the latest Holocene. Development of U-shaped valleys has been studied here we address the more challenging task of understanding how cross-valley riegels and associated overdeepenings form. Our focus in this project is two-fold: 1) to investigate how fast and in what spatial patterns valley and cirque glaciers erode their bedrock beds, and 2) to elucidate the extent and timing of extreme cold events of the early Alpine Lateglacial during the so-called ‘mystery interval’ of the last glacial termination. The ‘mystery interval’ is the period between about 19000 and 15000 yr ago when ice core records for the Greenland ice sheet indicate extremely cold conditions while mountain glaciers globally and most notably in the Alps were undergoing strong retreat. Events during this time period are linked to changes in North Atlantic circulation and should therefore impose a strong signal on the Alps which lie directly downwind. Understanding climate patterns during this time interval in the Alps requires absolute dating of the landform record of extreme cold pulses: moraines formed by glacier advances and rock glaciers. We augment our study of past climates through equilibrium lines of paleoglaciers constrained by moraines, with the study and cosmogenic nuclide dating of relict rock glaciers. The lowest elevation of a now inactive rock glaciers tells us the lower limit of discontinuous permafrost for the time when it was active (mean annual air temperature < 2 °C). We have identified several candidate study sites in Switzerland and Austria that allow us to study north south patterns across the Alps during the Lateglacial. Quantitative knowledge about how the processes of subglacial erosion work and at what rates are crucial for understanding and modeling the ways that glaciers control relief and overall elevation of mountain ranges.We will operate with a 4th year for PhD student C. Wirsig to complete cosmogenic nuclide measurements and research articles, with final completion of his dissertation in late summer 2015, and a new PhD student (N.N.) to begin after C. Wirsig has finished in fall 2015. For additional advisory capacity in the in situ 14C in quartz measure-ments, as well as expertise in ArcGIS and MATLAB we request 30% post-doc salary for Dr. Kristina Hippe. Her work in this project will be supported also through matching funds from Ion Beam Physics ETH.This project is directly in line with the research that S. Ivy-Ochs has pursued for more than 20 years, whose focus is on using cosmogenic nuclides to understand basic landscape changing processes within the framework of detailed field work. At Ion Beam Physics we are uniquely positioned to combine the three cosmogenic nuclides, 10Be, 14C and 36Cl, to study glacial erosion and the timing of glacier occupation in the Alps.
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