Title Bar: Illustrated Glossary of Alpine Glacial Landforms

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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

This first topographic map contains several different alpine glacial landforms. North is toward the top. The arete, labeled in red, follows the dashed line marking the National Forest Boundary. This arete separates a cirque containing a glacier (labeled "glacier") and a glacial trough (labeled "U-shaped valley") to the west, from one large and one smaller cirque to the east. The large cirque to the east extends off the southern edge of the map but a few remnants of glacial ice remain. The smaller cirque is north of the large one and is on the eastern side of the National Forest Boundary (black dashed line) adjacent to the northern-most arrow indicating the arete. Closed, elongated contour lines indicate the presence of a ridge, while the close spacing of the contour lines on either side of the arete show the steep sides.

Topographic map: arete

This second topographic map shows an arete (red dashed line) separating two cirques. Both cirques contain glaciers. At one time the glaciers were considerably larger than shown on the map. The southeastern glacier flowed northeast and then curved to the northwest near the eastern-most of the Upper Horton Lakes, joining the northwestern glacier, which also flowed to the northeast. The arete ends at the approximate location where the two glaciers joined. As in other examples, closed contour lines indicate a ridge and the close spacing of the contour lines reveal the steep sides of the ridge. Clues to help you determine that this ridge is in fact an arete include its steep sides and narrow top, as well as the fact that the ridge separates two cirques.

Topographic map: arete

Open this link to see a photo of the landscape diagrammed below.

Diagram: aretes, cirques, horns The aretes in this landscape form well-defined ridges separating the cirques. Where the aretes meet, you see a horn, a pyramid-shaped mountain peak.

The foreground of the photo contains moraine deposits and several tarns. More aretes, cirques and horns are visible in the distant background.

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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.