High-resolution Mapping of Offshore and Onshore Glaciogenic Features in Melville Bay, Northwestern Greenland
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
This study presents results from high resolution mapping in the northwestern part of Greenland’s continental shelf, offshore from the Greenland Ice Sheet. The study area is located at about 74o30’N and 58 o40’W where high-resolution seafloor imagery were collected from ~200-500 m water depth. These data were analyzed and compared to existing high-resolution satellite imagery of exposed glacial landforms from the nearby coastal areas. Offshore geophysical mapping equipment consisted of a Kongsberg EM2040 multibeam that was bow-mounted on the sailing vessel Explorer of Sweden together with a Seatex MRU5+ motion sensor and GPS antennas. In addition, a GAVIA autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) from University of Iceland with installed Geoswath interfometric sonar and Marine Sonic side-scan was used. The data from these systems permitted the production of both 5-m (for the EM2040) and 2-m (for the Geoswath) resolution bathymetric grids for landform analyzes. Sediment characterization analysis was also undertaken using the co-registered backscatter data. The exposed onshore landforms were studied using data from the high-res QuickBird satellite images with a 2-m pixel resolution. Geomorphic analysis of the data shows that past tectonic and glacial scouring processes have shaped the present-day landscape in both the offshore and onshore study areas. The terrain consists of glacially eroded bedrock covered with very thin surficial sediments resembling a ‘cnoc-and-lochan’ terrain, although the degree of erosion varies spatially, probably as a result of local variations in the rock properties. Different glacially influenced features are identified and described in the study. These features have been used to understand and infer past ice-sheet processes, particularly ice-flow direction and the extent of ice-cover on the continental shelves from previous extreme glaciation events. The backscatter information from the high-resolution interferometric sonar show fine-scale sedimentation patterns which are used to infer bottom water circulation. The study highlights that the use of the high-resolution seafloor mapping systems significantly enhance the quality of geomorphologic landform assessment.