Fabric signature of subglacial till deformation, Breidamerkurjökull, Iceland



The foreland of Breidamerkurjökull, Iceland, is the only locality where tills known to have undergone subglacial deformation are exposed. Till on the foreland has a two-tiered structure, consisting of a dilatant upper horizon c 0.5 m thick and a compact lower till; these horizons correspond to the ductile deforming A horizon and the brittle-ductile B horizon observed below the glacier by G. S. Boulton and co-workers. The relationship between known strain history and a variety of macrofabric elements is examined for these two genetic facies of deformation till. The upper horizon exhibits variable a-axis fabrics and abundant evidence for clast re-alignment, reflecting ductile flow and rapid clast response to transient strains. In contrast, the lower horizon has consistently well organized a-axis fabrics with a narrow range of dip values, recording clast rotation into parallel with strain axes during brittle or brittle-ductile shear. The data indicate that till strain history imparts identifiable macrofabric signatures, providing important analogues to guide the interpretation of Pleistocene tills.