Document Type


Publication Date



Glacier dynamics are inextricably linked to the basal conditions of glaciers. Seismic reflection methods can image the glacier bed under certain conditions. However, where a seismically thin layer of material is present at the bed, traditional analyses may fail to fully characterize bed properties. We use a targeted full-waveform inversion algorithm to quantify the basal-layer parameters of a mountain glacier: thickness (d), P-wave velocity (α) and density (ρ). We simultaneously invert for the seismic quality factor (Q) of the bulk glacier ice. The inversion seeks to minimize the difference between the data and a one-dimensional reflectivity algorithm using a gradient-based search with starting values initialized from a Monte Carlo scheme. We test the inversion algorithm on four basal layer synthetic data traces with 5% added Gaussian noise. The inversion retrieved thin-layer parameters within 10% of synthetic test parameters with the exception of seismic Q. For the seismic dataset from Bench Glacier, Alaska, USA, inversion results indicate a thin basal layer of debris-rich ice within the study area having mean velocity 4000 ± 700 m s–1, density 1900 ± 200 kg m–3 and thickness 6 ± 1.5 m.

Copyright Statement

This document was originally published by International Glaciological Society in Journal of Glaciology. Copyright restrictions may apply. doi: 10.3189/2014JoG14J072