27 Jul 2023
 | 27 Jul 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Geothermal heat source estimations through ice flow modelling at Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland

Alexander H. Jarosch, Eyjólfur Magnússon, Krista Hannesdóttir, Joaquín M. C. Belart, and Finnur Pálsson

Abstract. Geothermal heat sources beneath glaciers and ice caps influence local ice-dynamics and mass balance, but also control ice surface depression evolution as well as subglacial water reservoir dynamics. Resulting jökulhlaups (i.e. glacier lake outburst floods) impose danger to people and infrastructure, especially in Iceland, where they are closely monitored. Due to hundreds of meters of ice, direct measurements of heat source strength and extent are not possible. We present an indirect measurement method which utilizes ice flow simulations and glacier surface data, such as surface mass balance and surface depression evolution. Heat source locations can be inferred accurately to simulation grid scales; heat source strength and spatial distributions are also well quantified. Our methods are applied to Mýrdalsjökull ice cap in Iceland, where we are able to refine previous heat source estimates.

Alexander H. Jarosch et al.

Status: open (extended)

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Alexander H. Jarosch et al.

Alexander H. Jarosch et al.


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Short summary
Geothermally active regions beneath glaciers do not only influence local ice flow as well as the mass balance of glaciers, they can also control changes of subglacial water reservoirs and possible subsequent glacier lake outburst floods. In Iceland, such outburst floods impose danger to people and infrastructure, and are therefore monitored. We present a novel, computer simulation supported method to estimate the activity of such geothermal areas as well as monitor their evolution.