Fine-grained quartz from cryoconite holes of the Russell Glacier, southwest Greenland – a scanning electron microscopy study

Edyta Kalińska-Nartiša, Kristaps Lamsters, Jānis Karušs, Māris Krievāns, Agnis Rečs, Raimonds Meija

Abstract The western ablation zone of the Greenland ice sheet is darker than the surrounding ice, because a higher amount of fine-grained particles, known as a cryoconite, occur. To date, biotic cryoconite components have gained a lot of attention, in contrast with mineral components, which have been studied to a limited extent. In this study, fine-grained quartz grains from the cryoconite holes of the Russell Glacier, southwest Greenland are, therefore, examined. Authors use scanning electron microscope to elucidate shape, surface character and origin of these mineral quartz particles. Triangular-faceted, sharp-edged grains dominate in most of the investigated samples, and originate from local sources, where grain-to-grain contact in the ice prevail. Grains with smooth corners and edges result from chemical weathering in meltwater of alkaline pH, in which quartz solubility significantly increases. However, part of these rounded grains is due to mechanical abrasion by wind action. Postsedimentary frost action is visible through grains entirely or partially covered by scaly-grained encrustation. Local processes and sources are largely responsible for aforementioned grain outlines. However, few grains with bulbous silica precipitation argue for a dry and warm climate, and distant, out-of-Greenland origin.

Keywords • glacial • periglacial • weathered • aeolian • quartz grain • SEM

http://dx.doi.org/10.5200/baltica.2017.30.08

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