Compositional variations of gases in temperate glaciers

Weiss, RF, Bucher P, Craig H, Oeschger H.  1972.  Compositional variations of gases in temperate glaciers. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 16:178-&.


Concentrations of N2, O2, Ar and CO2 in ice from the Aletsch Glacier in the Bernese Alps have been measured by gas chromatography. Newly formed ice at the head of the glacier contains N2, O2 and Ar in roughly atmospheric proportions, whereas the CO2 content is ∼ 50 times greater than in air. Samples from the terminus of the glacier are considerably lower in total gas content, and are depleted in Ar and O2 and enriched in N2 with respect to air. The CO2 of this gas is ∼ 100 times greater than in air. Model calculations show that the N2-O2-Ar relationships are explained by the removal of these gases in solution in meltwater. In the case of CO2, the results indicate that only a small fraction of the CO2 in the ice is present in bubbles, the remainder being distributed within the ice matrix. Adsorption of atmospheric CO2 probably plays a role in determining the concentrations and distribution of CO2 in glacier ice.