Title Bar: Illustrated Glossary of Alpine Glacial 
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The steep back wall of a cirque.

Photo: headwall

Photo: R. Schukar. Used with permission.

In the above photo the bedrock of the steep headwall is located behind Grinnell Glacier. On the topographic map, closely-spaced brown contour lines show the steep headwall of the cirque. Contour lines revealing the topography of the land surface are brown, while contour lines showing the topography of the glacier surface are blue.

In the photo, rock debris covers the front margin of Grinnell Glacier. A large proglacial lake occupies the foreground of the photo. In the photo, you are looking toward the southwest. The location the photo was taken from is shown by the camera on the map. Grinnell Glacier is considerably larger on the map than in the photograph, thus these two images do not match perfectly. The map was published in 1968, while the photo was taken in 1993. In the intervening 25 years, Grinnell Glacier has retreated significantly. The photo was taken standing on rock debris, not from on the glacier as implied on the map.

The photo to the right shows another example of a cirque headwall. Again, the bedrock is nearly vertical and a small glacier sits in the base of the cirque. A proglacial lakes occupies the foreground of the photo.

Topographic map: headwall

Photo: headwall

Photo: N.H. Darton. 1906. USGS Photographic Library, photo dnh00929. < http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/> Accessed June 2010.
| More Examples of Headwalls |

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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.