Hydrological Connections between Antarctic Subglacial Lakes, the Flow of Water beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and Implications for Sedimentary Processes

  1. Michael J. Hambrey3,
  2. Poul Christoffersen3,4,
  3. Neil F. Glasser3 and
  4. Bryn Hubbard3
  1. Martin J. Siegert1,
  2. Anne Le Brocq2 and
  3. Antony J. Payne2

Published Online: 24 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304435.ch1

Glacial Sedimentary Processes and Products

Glacial Sedimentary Processes and Products

How to Cite

Siegert, M. J., Le Brocq, A. and Payne, A. J. (2007) Hydrological Connections between Antarctic Subglacial Lakes, the Flow of Water beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and Implications for Sedimentary Processes, in Glacial Sedimentary Processes and Products (eds M. J. Hambrey, P. Christoffersen, N. F. Glasser and B. Hubbard), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304435.ch1

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Centre for Glaciology, Institute of Geography & Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Wales, Ceredigion SY23 3DB, UK

  2. 4

    Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge, CB2 1ER, UK

Author Information

  1. 1

    School of GeoSciences, Grant Institute, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JW, UK

  2. 2

    Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, Bristol Glaciology Centre, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1SS, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 14 DEC 2007

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 39 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Isabel Montanez

Series Editor Information

  1. University of California, Davis, USA

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405183000

Online ISBN: 9781444304435



  • glacier dynamics and sedimentation;
  • hydrological connections between antarctic subglacial lakes, flow of water beneath east antarctic ice sheet and implications;
  • flow of water beneath ice sheet;
  • subglacial lake connections;
  • subglacial lake exploration and outburst flooding;
  • implications for ice dynamics and glacial sedimentary processes in east Antarctica


Subglacial lakes are commonly referred to as unique environments isolated for millions of years. The recent detection of a rapid transmission of water between subglacial lakes indicates, however, that these environments may be connected hydrologically and that sporadic discharge of lake water may be an expected process. Knowledge of this flow at a continental scale is important to understanding habitats provided by subglacial lakes, the potential routes by which stored basal water can be exported to the ice margin and the development of glacial-fluvial landforms. Here, an assessment of Antarctic subglacial water flow-paths is presented, based on hydro-potential gradients derived from basal and ice surface topographies. The assessment reveals that most subglacial lakes around Dome C are likely to be linked. One flow-path in particular connects >10 lakes located within adjacent topographic valleys, including Lake Concordia and Lake Vincennes. Subglacial water at Dome C has the potential to flow to the ocean, as the ice base is warm continuously between the ice divide and the margin. Such flow is likely to be organised into distinct drainage basins, in which water is routed to the proglacial zone through only a small number of outlets, which potentially has a strong influence on the development of sedimentary landforms.