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Direct Investigation of Englacial Conduits
Goals and Objectives
Ideas about the character and evolution of englacial drainage systems have been deeply influenced by the theoretical model developed by Shreve. The Shreve model is based on three main assumptions: (1) englacial drainage is in steady state; (2) englacial water will flow along the steepest hydraulic gradient within the glacier; and (3) pressure head equals the pressure of the surrounding ice minus a small component due to melting of the walls. The Shreve model has been widely adopted as a fundamental component of englacial drainage theory. There is no evidence, however, that the model provides a realistic picture of actual glacial drainage systems. To evaluate Shreve's theory, we used speleological techniques to directly survey englacial conduits. We mapped a total of 8.25 km of passage in 27 distinct englacial conduits in temperate, polythermal, cold-based and debris-covered glaciers between 2005 and 2008. New information reported here is supplemented by published data on 40 other englacial conduits located worldwide and surveyed to ice depths of 176 m using speleological techniques.
Available Outputs

Title: Englacial drainage systems formed by hydrologically driven crevasse propagation. Journal of Glaciology 55(11): 513-523.
Authors: Benn, D., J. Gulley, A. Luckman, A. Adamek, P.S. Glowacki

Title: Mechanisms of englacial conduit formation and their implications for subglacial recharge. Quaternary Science Reviews 28 (19-20) 1984-1999.
Authors: Gulley, J.C., Benn, D.I., Screaton, E., and Martin, J.

Title: Structural control of englacial conduits in the temperate Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, USA. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 55, No. 192, 2009.
Authors: Gulley, J.
Project Lead
Martin, Jonathan Bowman
Project Participants
Martin, Jonathan Bowman
Additional Participants
Jason Gulley
Level 1: WI Affiliated Faculty Project
Water, Land Use and Ecosystems
Partner Name(s)
Department of Geology, University Centre in Svalbard
Grant Award Dates
1/1/2008 to 11/30/2008