James R. Rice

Prof. James R. Rice

Mallinckrodt Professor of Engineering Sciences and Geophysics, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), Harvard University
James R. Rice

James R. Rice addresses, in recent years, the mechanics and physics of earth and environmental processes, e.g., stressing, deformation, and rupture phenomena arising in seismology, glaciology and near-surface geomechanics.





Title: Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical Processes Stabilizing Antarctic Ice Stream Margins

Abstract: Creeping flow of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is heterogeneous in a vast region bordering the Ross Sea. Broad streaks of the ice, called "ice streams" and having horizontal width ranging up to several 10s of km, slide over their bed (which was seafloor in the last inter-glacial period) at $> 100 m/yr$, whereas they are bordered laterally by ice ridges flowing at $< 10 m/yr$. Issues addressed, in studies with Thibaut Perol, John Platt and Jenny Suckale, are those of why does this flow-streak morphology form, and what does it mean for the overall rate of ice loss to the ocean. Our work shows how shear heating of the ice, consequent formation of temperate ice zones that produce melt as they continuously deform, and subglacial hydrological processes associated with Rothlisberger channels, can select the shear margin location, leading to a smooth transition from a slipping to a locked bed at the base of the ice stream.

Contact Information

Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
224 Pierce Hall
29 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: (617) 495-3445