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Geosciences LibreTexts

5: Glaciers

  • Page ID
    • 5.1: Introduction to Glaciers
      Before the era of universal air travel, which commenced less than half a century ago, few of the world’s population had seen a glacier. I suspect that majority of class members in this course have seen a glacier.
    • 5.2: Classification of Glaciers
      One good way of classifying glaciers is by the extent to which their shape and movement are affected by the underlying bedrock topography.
    • 5.3: Distribution of Glaciers
      Aside from the Greenland ice sheet, most of the larger glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere are mostly on Iceland and the Arctic Islands of Canada, because of the distribution of land and sea.
    • 5.4: Glacier Ice
      The transition of new snow to glacier ice is similar to the deposition, diagenesis, and metamorphism of a sediment to form a metamorphic rock. (And in a real sense, glacier ice is a metamorphic rock.)
    • 5.5: The Budget of Glaciers
      First off, the term accumulation applies to all of the ways glacier ice mass is added to a glacier, and the term ablation applies to all of the ways glacier ice is removed from a glacier.
    • 5.6: Movement of Glaciers
      An important consequence of the balance considerations in the previous section is the glacier tends to thicken in its upper part and thin in its lower part, thus increasing its surface slope. The glacier flows under its own weight, passing ice across the equilibrium line to maintain an equilibrium slope.
    • 5.7: Deformation of Ice
      As in many crystals, the way ice crystals are deformed or sheared when a stress is applied is by propagation of dislocations through the crystal. A dislocation is a line defect in a crystal that disrupts the otherwise ideal and regular arrangement of atoms or molecules.
    • 5.8: The Thermal Structure of Glaciers
      A glacier can gain or lose heat in several ways. It’s clear that these processes operate both at the surface of the glacier and at the base of the glacier. What are these processes, and what is their relative importance?
    • 5.9: Glacial Meltwater
      Glacial meltwater is the liquid water produced by ablation of glaciers. Meltwater is in most glaciers by far the most important product of ablation; it’s much more important than evaporation. Of course, in glaciers that terminate in the ocean, calving is more important.
    • 5.10: Glacial Erosion
      Glaciers are very effective in eroding, transporting, and depositing bedrock. How do we know that?
    • 5.11: Glacial Sediment Transport
      The term load is used for all drift that’s in transport by a glacier at a given time. As with fluvial sediment transport, keep in mind the distinction between the load and the transport rate. The transport rate of a glacier is the time rate of passage of sediment past some cross section through the glacier that’s stationary relative to the underlying bedrock.
    • 5.12: Glacial Deposits
      Here are some comments on the nature of sedimentary materials deposited by glaciers:

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