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

Lines etched in bedrock as individual particles embedded in the ice at the base of a glacier scratch the underlying bedrock. These lines are parallel to glacial flow and thus indicate the orientation (but not necessarily the direction) of flow. Determining the orientation of ice flow may be important if you're trying to reconstruct the glacial history of a place where no one was around to observe the glaciers when the striations were formed.
Photo: striations

The striations in the photo are on rocks in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Utah. Although the striations allow you to determine the orientation of flow, you need other clues to determine the actual direction of flow. In mountainous regions, flow will always be from higher to lower elevations. Although the surrounding topography is not visible in the photo, that topography indicates the ice flowed from the bottom right to the upper left of the photo.

Photo: B. Ford. Used with permission.

| More Examples of Striations |

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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.