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Application of ground penetrating radar (GPR) in Alpine ice caves

Author(s): H. Hausmann | M. Behm

Journal: The Cryosphere Discussions
ISSN 1994-0432

Volume: 4;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 1365;
Date: 2010;
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Several caves in high elevated alpine regions host up to several meters thick ice fillings. The age of the ice may exceed some hundreds or thousands of years. However, structure, formation and development of the ice are not fully understood and are subject to relatively recent investigation. The application of ground penetrating radar (GPR) enables to determine thickness, volume, basal and internal structure of the ice fillings and provides as such important constraints for related studies. We present results from four caves located in the Northern Calcareous Alps of Austria and show that cave ice is far from being uniform. The transition from ice to the ground has variable reflection signatures, which is related to the deposit and size of debris. The internal structure of the ice fillings is characterized by banded structures which are inclined or parallel to the subsurface topography. These reflection signatures can result from thin layers of calcitic minerals and might help to understand the ice formation by representing isochrones.

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