Ross Ice Shelf Displacement and Elastic Plate Waves Induced by Whillans Ice Stream Slip Events

Douglas A. Wiens, Richard C. Aster, Andrew A. Nyblade, Peter D. Bromirski, Peter Gerstoft, Ralph A. Stephen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ice shelves are assumed to flow steadily from their grounding lines to the ice front. We report the detection of ice-propagating extensional Lamb (plate) waves accompanied by pulses of permanent ice shelf displacement observed by co-located Global Navigation Satellite System receivers and seismographs on the Ross Ice Shelf. The extensional waves and associated ice shelf displacement are produced by tidally triggered basal slip events of the Whillans Ice Stream, which flows into the ice shelf. The propagation velocity of 2,800 m/s is intermediate between shear and compressional ice velocities, with velocity and particle motions consistent with predictions for extensional Lamb waves. During the passage of the Lamb waves the entire ice shelf is displaced about 60 mm with a velocity more than an order of magnitude above its long-term flow rate. Observed displacements indicate a peak dynamic strain of 10−7, comparable to that of earthquake surface waves that trigger ice quakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023GL108040
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 16 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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