Title Bar: Illustrated Glossary of Alpine Glacial 
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    Erosional Landforms
    Giant stair steps
    Glacial trough
    Hanging valley
    Paternoster lakes
    U-shaped valley

    Depositional Landforms
    End moraine
    Ground moraine
    Lateral moraine
    Medial moraine

    Ice Features
    Cirque glacier
    Valley glacier
    Ice fall

A chain of lakes in a glacial valley. These lakes may form when end moraines, particularly a series of recessional moraines, dam meltwater flowing out from a glacier. Paternoster lakes may also form due to differential glacial erosion of more- and less-resistant bedrock layers. The less-resistant bedrock layers become low spots where water can accumulate while the more-resistant bedrock layers form natural dams that allow significant amounts of water to accumulate in the low spot.

Photo: paternoster lakes

Photo: K.A. Lemke. Used with permission.

Topographic map: paternoster lakes
This chain of lakes in Glacier National Park provides an example of paternoster lakes. In the photo, you are looking toward the northeast. On the map, north is toward the top. The topographic map shows the lakes and the rivers connecting the lakes in blue. The photo was taken from the trail shown by a thin dashed black line on the map where the camera is located. The lake in the foreground is Grinnell Lake. Behind that is Lake Josephine and beyond that you can see a little bit of Swiftcurrent Lake. These lakes are located in a classic example of a glacially carved U-shaped valley or trough.
| More Examples of Paternoster Lakes |

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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.