Title Bar: Illustrated Glossary of Alpine Glacial Landforms

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MORE EXAMPLES OF MORAINES

    Erosional Landforms
    Arete
    Cirque
    Col
    Giant stair steps
    Glacial trough
    Groove
    Hanging valley
    Headwall
    Horn
    Paternoster lakes
    Striations
    Tarn
    U-shaped valley

    Depositional Landforms
    Moraine
    End moraine
    Ground moraine
    Lateral moraine
    Medial moraine

    Ice Features
    Cirque glacier
    Valley glacier
    Crevasse
    Ice fall
    Ogives

Photo: end moraine

End Moraine

The photo to the left shows an end moraine that appears as a distinct ridge. The glacier is to the left of the moraine. The fact that the elevation of the glacier surface is lower than the elevation of the top of the moraine ridge indicates that the glacier is retreating. Without being able to see more of the surrounding landscape you cannot determine whether this end moraine is a terminal or a recessional moraine.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: E.C. Stebinger. 1914. USGS Photographic Library, photo sec00406. <http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/> Accessed June 2010.

Photo: glacial moraines

Lateral and End Moraines

Two retreating valley glaciers have left behind excellent examples of lateral and end moraines in the photo to the left. The lateral moraines are grayish and form well-defined ridges along the valley walls. The lateral moraines grade into end moraines toward the bottom of the photo. The end moraines are curved and connect the lateral moraine on one side of the valley with the lateral moraine on the other side of the valley. The end moraines are most likely terminal moraines. The river valley at the bottom of the photo was glaciated at one time and the two valley glaciers fed into the larger glacier that filled that river valley. The large glacier that carved the river valley at the bottom of the photo retreated to such an extent that the valley glaciers in the photo were able to advance onto the bottom of the larger valley. As there are no other end moraines from these two valley glaciers at lower elevations, they are terminal moraines.

Photo: E.E. Brabb. 1959. USGS Photographic Library, photo sec00406. <http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/> Accessed June 2010.

Photo: lateral moraine

Lateral Moraine

In the photo to the left you are looking down-valley along the crest of a lateral moraine. The lateral moraine is grayish and forms a well-defined ridge along the right side of Carbon Glacier on Mount Rainier. Sediment covers Carbon Glacier, which is to the left of the moraine. There is most likely another lateral moraine along the left side of the glacier but it is not shown in the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: D.R. Crandell. 1952. USGS Photographic Library, photo cdr00115. <http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/> Accessed June 2010.

Medial, Lateral and End Moraines

The photograph below shows two highly visible medial moraines, one about a third of the way from the left side of the glacier and one in the middle of the glacier, and a third less-obvious medial moraine toward the right third of the glacier. These medial moraines form ridges on top of the existing glacier. Toward the bottom of the photo at the glacier terminus (snout) the medial moraines are still visible even where the ice has melted away from both sides of the moraines. Over time, as meltwater flows through the valley, these ridges will become less distinct.

On the left side of the glacier there is a lateral moraine that forms an irregular ridge. The lateral moraine grades into a series of end moraines toward the bottom of the photo. You can see a series of ridges forming end moraines on the left and right sides of the bottom of the photo, but in the middle left the end moraines have been eroded away. These end moraines form a series of recessional moraines. Each ridge formed during a time period when the glacier was stationary (its size stayed the same) after which the glacier retreated some more and then became stationary again.

Photo: glacial moraines

Photo: T.L. Pewe. USGS Photographic Library, photo cdr00115. <http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/> Accessed June 2010.
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All commercial rights reserved. Copyright 2010 by Karen A. Lemke. Earlier copyright 2002 by Karen A. Lemke, and 1998 by Karen A. Lemke and Linda Freeman.
Last updated June 2010 KAL.