Sedimentary Record of Recent Glaciation in Tirol and Carinthia

Supervisor: Dan Le Heron (Department of Geodynamics and Sedimentology) in collaboration with Bernhard Grasemann (Department of Geodynamics and Sedimentology) and Bethan Davies, Royal Holloway University of London

Funding Situation: potentially via a VISESS PhD fellowship

Project outline: This study aims to quantify the rates of change operating at both the Gepatsch Ferner (Tirol) and Pasterze (Carinthia) glaciers in terms of sediment removal and sediment production. The Gepatsch Ferner is one of several Tirolean valley glaciers that has undergone retreat since the Little Ice Age in 1850, leaving a geomorphic record of complex subglacial bedforms, glacial deposits, fluvial deposits and slope-derived talus in the valley. The Gepatsch is a debris-poor glacier whose forefield accessibility, coupled with the quality of the outcrops, make it an ideal location to study the role of sediment in the construction of subglacial bedforms, and their modification by meltwater systems over the last 20 years. By contrast, the Pasterze Glacier is a debris rich glacier whose snout terminates in a small proglacial lake. This study will build on work done in the Department of Geology in the last few years which has focussed on the acquisition of tens of thousands of aerial photographs from UAVs, and dovetail the collection of new drone-borne imagery and its interpretation with traditional sedimentological approaches. A common assumption is that facies models of glacial systems need to incorporate “dramatic” lateral facies changes, yet there have been no attempts to quantify this e.g. by the production of differential digital elevation models in Austria. This project will attempt to answer this fundamental question, with major implications for how we interpret the Quaternary and Deep Time glacial records.