Glacial Erosion Landforms and Processes

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What is Glacial Erosion Processes and Various Features of Glacial Erosion

In this article, we’ll discuss Glacial Erosion’s Landforms and Processes. We’ll also look at how scientists reconstruct the extent of ice masses. The main processes affecting glaciers are freeze-thaw effects and the ice’s ability to lose mass. This article will focus on the last of these.


A glaciated valley, or ‘fjord’, is a deep trough filled with sea water. A fjord is formed by a glacier cutting a U-shaped valley and then headward eroding the cirque’s wall. The narrow, saw-toothed ridge is left behind. These landforms are common in colder climates and are particularly interesting for palaeoclimatologists.

The process of glacial abrasion produces a variety of streamlined bedrock features. The most common of these are striae, grooves, micro-crags, and p-forms. Some of these features are reminiscent of icebergs, such as the craters of Iceland. These landforms are created by individual ice clasts, and high basal pressures and low sliding velocities favor the formation of p-forms. On Broughton Island, for example, a series of ice-scoured rock knobs have been preserved. They are estimated to be between 50 000 and 120 000 years old.

A landscape map derived from these methods combines fieldwork with remote-sensing methods to produce detailed topographic data. In addition, the geological and topographic information are derived from existing maps, and basal thermal regimes are calculated by simulating the former Laurentide ice sheet, which may reflect several Cenozoic glaciations. The landscape map derived from this study uses a morphological classification to describe the different facets of glacial erosion. The main features of such landscapes are detailed below.

The intensity of glacial scouring varies according to the density of lake basins. A zone of maximum ice-sheet erosion is defined by a ring between the centre and the periphery. The zone coincides with the region where melt water from the centre froze and incorporated basal debris into the ice. The glacier’s basal layer was relatively thick, providing an efficient means of debris evacuation.


The process of glacial erosion produces a variety of different landscapes. One such landform is a cirque. A cirque is a large, flat valley formed by glacial movement. A cirque is often shaped like a cup from above. Glacial erosion also creates steep, cirque-like slopes called headwalls. The valley’s floor is bowl-shaped, where large boulders are deposited as sediment. These cirques are commonly found in the Alps and Himalaya, and the Upper Thornton Lake Cirque is an example.

The different processes responsible for glacial erosion can be broken down into two basic categories: cumulative and ablation. Cumulative processes add mass to the glacial system while ablation processes remove mass from the glacial system. Both types of processes are constantly changing and interacting, resulting in a dynamic system that is a constant motion. This dynamic nature of the glacial system is evident in the various processes and various features that form them.

One of the main processes of glacial erosion is plucking, a process whereby moving glacial ice detaches particle-like material from rock surface cracks. On rock mounds, plucking occurs in the lee-side of the glacier. The process creates unique asymmetrical features known as roche moutonnee, which are smooth on one side and steep on the opposite.

Other processes that cause glacier erosion include stratification and erosion. Depending on the glacier’s location and the amount of snow added or melted, the landforms it leaves behind will differ. A valley glacier, for example, scrapes away the sides of a valley and sculpts it with nearly vertical walls. Another process, called abrasion, involves the scraping of underlying rock. Glaciers also leave behind grooves or striations.

Several studies have been conducted to estimate glacial erosion rates. The European Alps, for example, show an increase in relief since the mid-Pleistocene transition, corresponding to an erosion rate of around one mm/a. Thomson et al. (2013) show a two-kilometer incision since 34 Ma. Hence, the process of glacial erosion can produce some beautiful landforms.

Various Features

The Various Features of Glacial Erosion vary widely in location and magnitude. In general, glacial erosion is more aggressive than erosion in other types of basins of equal size. There are exceptions, however, such as those within highly active tectonic and volcanic zones. Here are some examples. This type of erosion is also known as glacial plucking. This is the process by which glaciers create u-shaped valleys.

One of the most common features of glacial erosion is the plucking or transport of large pieces of rock from beneath the glacier. There are several explanations for this phenomenon, including differential stresses in rock caused by water seeping into cracks in bedrock. This weakens the bond holding rock pieces in place, causing them to be eroded and transported by the glacier. This erosion changes the landscape and results in the deterioration of the rock.

Another feature of glacial erosion is the formation of large lakes. These bodies of water extend northwestward from the Great Lakes and into Canada. The process of glacial erosion involved a glacier moving over crystalline rock and encountering thin layers of sedimentary rock. These layers were gouged by the glacier, and water filled the basin to form lakes. In some cases, the Great Slave Lake exhibits an abrupt increase in size and is formed in sedimentary rocks. Many other large lakes are also examples of glacial erosion.

A glacier’s troughs are called cirques. These are formed when U-shaped tributary valleys connect to a larger valley. The glacier in the main valley erodes the rock to form steep triangle-shaped cliffs. A hanging valley is another type of glacial feature. Its steep sides cause a large cliff to form on a riverbed.

The most obvious feature of glacial erosion is the glacier itself. The glacier has the capacity to slide over sediment and bedrock. Because the ice is relatively soft, rock fragments embedded in it push down on the underlying surfaces. The paper-like effect of the ice is similar to that of angular garnet fragments. In addition to these features, glacial erosion has been classified according to their morphological types.

Reconstruction of ice mass extent

Reconstruction of ice mass extent due to the erosion of glacial ice sheets is a common problem in paleoclimate modeling and assessment of present-day Earth deformation and sea-level change. However, prior reconstructions have suffered from the inability to adhere to local constraints, often due to an insufficient understanding of ice physics. Instead, prior reconstructions have relied on assumptions about far-field sea level and ice physics to estimate ice mass extent.

The most recent global sea level estimates are based on an ice-sheet volume equivalent that is comparable to the LGM ice sheets. However, the Eurasian ice sheets are less extensive south of the Cordillera and compensate for their smaller extent in the north. In addition, the western Laurentide Ice Sheet does not reach the Cordillera. For all of these reasons, the ice-sheet volume of the MIS 4 glaciation is about 70% of that of the LGM.

In the study area, the paleo-ice-mass extent is determined by mapping glaciers using remote-sensing optical imagery and a newly-created high-resolution digital elevation model. The area of study has abundant evidence of glaciation, such as glacial cirques, moraines, and hummocky terrain. Moreover, the reconstructed glacier fronts exhibited varying elevations, indicating thinning of the front during the deglaciation from the LLGM.

Reconstruction of ice mass extent due to the glacial process has an important role in understanding past climate. It is a critical tool to understand the ice-filled tropics. By studying past glacial extents, researchers can provide valuable insight into the present-day tropics and the melting glaciers. This knowledge will help us understand how glaciers and sea levels have affected climate change.

The study area shows a cirque-to-valley glacier configuration. It appears that most glaciers in the NG north study area developed on the west side of the study region, while smaller ones formed on the east. This reconstruction reveals that there were twelve glacial valleys in the study area, which originate from 12 different cirques. The elevations of the cirques vary between 3,257 m a.s.l.