The identification of subglacial drainage systems can inform our understanding of past and present hydrological processes, landscape evolution, and ice dynamics. Here, we present evidence from satellite imagery, digital elevation models, and radio-echo sounding data for a series of channelized networks with contrasting paleofluvial and subglacial origins beneath Humboldt Glacier, northern Greenland. A >250-km-long, dendritic paleofluvial channel network beneath the northern portion of Humboldt is interpreted as a preglacial feature. Roughly linear channels beneath the southern portion of Humboldt, which display a similar distribution to tunnel valleys found on the beds of former ice sheets, are likely to have been eroded by subglacial meltwater routed along the ice-sheet bed. We suggest that basal meltwater is actively being routed down both the paleofluvial and subglacially formed channel networks to the coast. Inheritance of the preglacial channel network may have influenced the present-day location and dynamics of Humboldt Glacier and enhanced selective erosion at its down-glacier end.
- Received 3 December 2016.
- Revision received 28 February 2017.
- Accepted 1 March 2017.
- ©The Authors
Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license.