North-Central Section - 50th Annual Meeting - 2016

Paper No. 13-5
Presentation Time: 2:50 PM


LEE, Rebecca E., School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main St. West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8, Canada, MACLACHLAN, John C., School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada and EYLES, Carolyn H., Integrated Science Program & School of Geography & Earth Sciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada,

Landsystem analysis is a commonly applied methodology in glacial geomorphological analysis which divides the proglacial fields of modern glaciers based on landform-sediment assemblages, known as landsystem tracts. These tracts can be used to understand the evolution of the landscape and to interpret the impact of glacial history on the geomorphological characteristics of the glacial forefield. The integration of detailed sedimentological analysis with this methodology can be used to better understand the influence of glacier behavior on the development of landforms. These interpretations can then be applied to ancient glacial deposits as an aid to the reconstruction of former climatic and glaciological conditions.

The proglacial regions of three outlet glaciers of the Vatnajökull Ice Cap in southeast Iceland have been subjected to landsystem analysis. The close proximity of the three glaciers (Svínafellsjökull, Skaftafellsjökull and Morsárjökull), which are located within adjacent valleys, limits the differential effects of climatic factors on their behaviours. Mapping of the landsystem tracts within the proglacial fields was completed though the use of remotely sensed data and field investigations. LiDAR data obtained from the Icelandic Meteorological Office was converted into a high resolution digital elevation model (DEM) using a geographic information system. The DEM was used in conjunction with aerial imagery to complete initial mapping of the proglacial fields of the three glaciers, focusing on the scale and distribution of the landforms in each area. The landforms were ground-checked in the field using a portable geographic information system to record spatial data as well as sketch maps and photographs. Outcrops of sediment were also logged to determine the sedimentary characteristics of landforms associated with the landsystem tracts. Integration of remotely sensed data with those from field investigations has allowed detailed landsystem maps of the proglacial region of each of the three glaciers to be created. Variations in geomorphological characteristics of the glacier systems such as topography, bedrock type and ice characteristics, has created a significant amount of variation in the type, distribution, and scale of landforms found in the proglacial area of each glacier.