Topographic and hydrological controls on Subglacial Lake Ellsworth, West Antarctica
Article first published online: 19 SEP 2007
Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 34, Issue 18, September 2007
How to Cite
2007), Topographic and hydrological controls on Subglacial Lake Ellsworth, West Antarctica, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L18501, doi:10.1029/2007GL030769., , , , , and (
- Issue published online: 19 SEP 2007
- Article first published online: 19 SEP 2007
- Manuscript Accepted: 20 AUG 2007
- Manuscript Revised: 31 JUL 2007
- Manuscript Received: 1 JUN 2007
- ice sheets;
- subglacial lakes;
- ice dynamics
 Subglacial Lake Ellsworth (SLE) was identified using reconnaissance data collected in the 1970s, here we present more detailed surveys. SLE lies beneath 3.2 km of ice in a subglacial valley in West Antarctica. It has an area of only ∼18 km2, is dissimilar to the large tectonically-controlled lakes beneath East Antarctica and is a strong candidate for in situ exploration. Our analysis indicates that the ice above SLE is floating on a fluid whose density is 950–1013 kg m−3. This could indicate freshwater, but certainly precludes seawater, or high salt, acid, or clathrate content. The water in the lake is unlikely to be produced solely by local melt; it is more likely delivered via subglacial drainage. Our surveys show no identifiable hydrological barrier to outflow, meaning SLE is effectively full; new water entering the lake is likely balanced by outflow, which would drain into another lake that we have also identified.