Sedimentological, geomorphological and dynamic context of debris-mantled glaciers, Mount Everest (Sagarmatha) region, Nepal

Michael J. Hambrey, Duncan J. Quincey, Neil F. Glasser, John M. Reynolds, Shaun Richardson, Samuel Clemmens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

This paper presents the sediment, landform and dynamic context of four avalanche-fed valley glaciers (Khumbu, Imja, Lhotse and Chukhung) in the Mount Everest (Sagarmatha) region of Nepal. All four glaciers have a mantle of debris dominated by sandy boulder-gravel that suppresses melting to an increasing degree towards the snout, leading to a progressive reduction in the overall slope of their longitudinal profile. Prominent lateral–terminal moraine complexes, also comprising sandy bouldergravel, enclose the glaciers. These terminal moraines originally grew by accretion of multiple sedimentary facies of basal glacial and supraglacial origin, probably by folding and thrusting when the glaciers were more dynamic during the Little Ice Age. The four glaciers are in various stages of recession, and demonstrate a range of scenarios from down-wasting of the glacier tongue, through morainedammed lake development, to post-moraine-dam breaching. Khumbu Glacier is at the earliest stage of supraglacial pond formation and shows no sign yet of developing a major lake, although one is likely to develop behind its >250 m high composite terminal moraine. Imja Glacier terminates in a substantial body of water behind a partially ice-cored moraine dam (as determined from geophysical surveys), but morphologically appears unlikely to be an immediate threat. Chukhung Glacier already has a breached moraine and a connected debris fan, and therefore no longer poses a threat. Lhotse Glacier has an inclined, free-draining tongue that precludes hazardous lake development. From the data assembled, a conceptual model, applicable to other Himalayan glaciers, is proposed to explain the development of large, lateral-terminal moraine complexes and associated potentially hazardous moraine dams. – 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1084-1084
Number of pages1
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume28
Issue number11-12
Early online date13 May 2009
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

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