Posted on: 21 December, 2018
Application deadline: January 31, 2019

PhD project: Ice streams: present-to-palaeo – QUADRAT, Aberdeen University, QUADRAT, Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Project Description

Ice streams are the arteries which drain large quantities of ice from the interior of ice sheets to the ice margin. From both palaeo and present they are known to display dynamical behaviour in relation to ice flow velocity. This is high during active ice streaming e.g. >1 km per year with subsequent shut-downs where velocity drops by order/s of magnitude. The high flow velocities are facilitated by a weak bed while significant resistance is provided by the lateral shear margins. Surface crevasses are found along the lateral shear margins, sometimes extending into the centre of the ice stream. The palaeo landform record preserves evidence of ice streaming (megascale glacial lineations, MSGL), lateral shear margins (shear margin moraines), and basal crevassing (crevasse squeeze ridges, CSRs). The genesis of CSRs is known from surging glaciers and importantly they can only be preserved when fast ice flow stops and is followed by passive ice retreat. This project aims to investigate the deformation characteristics of extant ice streams, existing crevassing theory and to apply this to the palaeo landform record to interpret past ice stream dynamics. Where possible, it will also generate quantitative palaeo-stress information. For example the orientations and ratios of tensile and shear stresses derived from the orientations of CSRs and the propagation angles between segments. The application of a geotechnical model to determine the potential overburden pressure, and thus a minimum value for ice thickness, related to the injection of sediment into basal crevasses will be investigated. The derivation of semi-quantitative data on palaeo-ice streams will be invaluable for numerical modelling of palaeo-ice sheets.

The project will involve the processing and use of freely available satellite, sea floor and digital elevation model data. Mapping of ice stream surface crevasses and landforms on palaeo ice stream beds (CSRs and MSGL) will be undertaken in a GIS environment with subsequent quantification of the patterns analysed using the bespoke software FracPaQ. The spatial patterning of crevasses/CSRs and land forms will be investigated in the GIS to identify relationships between ice stream geometries and flow regimes. This studentship will suit a highly motivated individual interested in undertaking a quantitative project bringing together knowledge, skills and techniques from, glaciology, structural geology, fracture mechanics and geotechnics. The student will be supervised by a team with expertise in glaciology, geospatial analytics, geophysics and fracture mechanics. Candidates should ideally have a background in physical geography, geology or a related discipline. Skills in GIS, Matlab, python, R etc. are not essential, but will be beneficial.

The PhD studentship is part of the NERC Doctoral Training Centre “QUADRAT” (University of Aberdeen and Queen University Belfast). QUADRAT provides high quality training in many aspects essential to future employment, including field-based experience, science communication skills and a Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership. The PhD student will be based in Aberdeen but the candidate will be expected to spend time with the co-supervisor in Belfast.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography • State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor • State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding • State the exact project title on the application form

Application closing date is 12:00pm (GMT) on 31 January 2019. Applications received after this time will NOT be considered. Additionally, incomplete applications will NOT be considered. When applying please ensure all required documents are attached: • All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary) • CV • 2 References (Academic, where possible)

Informal inquiries can be made to Prof B Rea () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

The start date of the project is 1 October 2019

Funding Notes

To be eligible to apply for a fully-funded DTP studentship, you must:

1. be a UK or EU citizen or a non-EU citizen with permanent settled status in the UK (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’)


2. have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (this applies to all citizen categories)

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