Section of Glaciology Laboratory of Hydraulics Hydrology and Glaciology Swiss Federal Institute of Technology CH8092 Zurich Switzerland

Fracture in ice is a complex competitive process of microcrack nucleation and propagation. The spatial organization of the microcracks during their development determines the brittleness or the ductility of ice. Because of the difficulties in taking the influence of the microcracks into account individually, the fracture is usually considered at a scale (the mesoscale) that homogenizes the microstructures. The analysis of the fracture process is thus based on quantities defined at that scale. In this approach, the brittleness or the ductility of the fracture is frequently related to the stress magnitude, the stress state and the temperature of the ice. Fracture in tension (the usual form of crevassing) becomes ductile at low stress and high temperature.

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