Ellipsoidal Basins

Ellipsoidal Basins is a geographical term used to describe deep, elongated lakes, formed by subglacial activity beneath past ice sheets [1]. Examples of these basins include the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes of North America [1,2]. These basins were formed either where the ice was topographically constrained (Finger Lakes), had vulnerable, softer, geology (the Great …

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Introduction to glacial landforms

Glaciers are one of the most powerful forces shaping our local landscape. As glaciers flow downhill from mountains to the lowlands, they erode, transport, and deposit materials, forming a great array of glacial landforms. They can erode mountains, and change their morphology. Large glaciers and ice sheets can deposit great swathes of sands and gravels, …

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Meltwater channels

What are meltwater channels? Each year, glaciers melt. Meltwater channels are erosional features, cut into rock and sediment by flowing water beneath or close to ice-sheet margins1,2. They can cut sizeable troughs, meaning that they are very visual indicators of the location of the former ice margin. Meltwater channels can therefore be used to work …

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Glacial landsystems

“Glacial Landsystems” are assemblages of characteristic glacial sediments and landforms. Different types of glacier deposit different assemblages of these sediments and landforms. The study of glacial landsystems can therefore give us information about the type and style of palaeoglaciers, and give us insights into glacial processes.


Glacial cirques, known locally as corries or coires (Scotland) and cwms (Wales), are large-scale erosional features common to many mountainous regions1,2. Classic cirques take the form of armchair-shaped hollows (see image below), with a steep headwall (which often culminates in a sharp ridge, or arête) and a gently-sloping or overdeepened valley floor (see diagram below). …

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Roches moutonnées

Roches moutonnées are asymmetric bedrock bumps or hills with a gently sloping and abraded upglacier (stoss) face and a quarried (or plucked) downglacier (lee) face that is typically blunter1,2. A good example of a roche moutonnée is shown in the image below. Roches moutonnées range in size from several metres to several hundreds of metres …

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Subglacial erosion

What is subglacial erosion? Subglacial erosion refers to processes that act at a glacier or ice sheet bed that cause the Earth’s surface to be worn down, broken up, and transported by ice. These processes leave behind some of the classic signs of glacial activity, in the form of erosional landforms and landscapes. Subglacial erosion …

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Glacial erosional landforms

Further reading: Cirque landsystems of upland Britain Glaciated valley landsystem Videos on glacial erosion: This video shows a computer simulation of glacier erosion. You can watch the landscape evolve from a fluvial landscape into a glaciated landscape, and discuss the features that you can see evolving. This video shows the awesome glacier fjords in Norway. …

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Glacial landforms

Glaciers have a huge impact on our landscape. They are one of the most powerful forces shaping our Earth surface. These pages introduce some of the most important erosional and depositional landforms, and highlight the processes by which they form. Glaciers of different types produce different suites of characteristic landforms. We call these glacial landsystems. …

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