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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  13 Nov 2020

13 Nov 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Geophysical constraints on the properties of a subglacial lake in northwest Greenland

Ross Maguire1,2, Nicholas Schmerr1, Erin Pettit3, Kiya Riverman3, Christyna Gardner4, Daniella Della-Giustina5, Brad Avenson6, Natalie Wagner7, Angela G. Marusiak1, Namrah Habib5, Juliette I. Broadbeck5, Veronica J. Bray5, and Hop Bailey5 Ross Maguire et al.
  • 1Department Geological Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park MD, 20742, USA
  • 2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, 87131, USA
  • 3College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR, 97331-5503, USA
  • 4Department of Geosciences, Utah State University, Logan UT, 84322-4505, USA
  • 5Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ, 85721-0092, USA
  • 6Silicon Audio Inc., Austin TX, USA
  • 7Department of Geosciences, University of Alaska, Fairbanks AK, 99775, USA

Abstract. We report the first ground-based observations of a subglacial lake in Greenland, confirming previous work base on airborne radar data. Here, we perform an active source seismology and ground penetrating radar survey in northwest Greenland where Palmer et al. (2013) first proposed the presence of a subglacial lake. From reflections of both the lake top and lake bottom, we observe a subglacial lake underlying approximately 845 m of ice, and constrain its depth to be between 10–15 m. Additionally, using previously reported estimates of the lake's lateral extent, we estimate the total volume of liquid water to be 0.15 km3 (0.15 Gt of water). Thermal and hydropotential modeling both suggest that the lake should not exist unless it either sits over a localized geothermal flux high or has high salinity due to significant evaporite source in the bedrock. Our study indicates that this field site in northwestern Greenland is a good candidate for future investigations aimed at understanding lake properties and origins or for direct lake sampling via drilling.

Ross Maguire et al.

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Ross Maguire et al.

Ross Maguire et al.


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Latest update: 27 Nov 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In the last decade, airborne radar surveys have revealed the presence of lakes below the Greenland ice sheet. However, little is known about their properties, including their depth and the volume of water they store. We performed a ground-based geophysics survey in northwestern Greenland, and for the first time, were able to image the depth of a subglacial lake and estimate its volume. Our findings have implications for the thermal state and stability of the ice sheet in northwest Greenland.
In the last decade, airborne radar surveys have revealed the presence of lakes below the...