We analyze Holocene ice flow using global positioning system and radio-echo sounding data acquired near the Amundsen-Weddell ice divide, between Pine Island Glacier and the Institute Ice Stream, West Antarctica. The data show that this part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) has maintained a stable ice flow regime and ice divide position for ∼7000 yr. Independent glacial geological data, in support of this assertion, suggest that the interior of the WAIS west of the Ellsworth Mountains has thinned by only a few hundred meters since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and that the position of the ice divide may be recurrent over longer (more than 20 k.y., perhaps pre-Quaternary) time scales. We suggest that basal topography constrains ice flow in this sector of the WAIS, making the ice divide relatively insensitive to perturbations around the margins of the ice sheet compared with other ice divides. Large-scale forcing measured elsewhere in the WAIS as major reorganizations of the ice sheet surface and flowline pattern may be manifested only in simple vertical changes of the Amundsen-Weddell interior.
- Received 12 November 2010.
- Revision received 3 May 2011.
- Accepted 10 May 2011.
- © 2011 Geological Society of America