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

The glacier in this first photo is flowing into a body of water, seen at the very bottom of the photo. As the ice flows into the water body, flow accelerates to a speed that is greater than the rate at which ice can deform. As a result, crevasses form as cracks develop in the ice to accommodate the higher flow rate. These crevasses are aligned perpendicular to the ice flow direction; the ice is flowing toward the bottom of the photo while the cracks extend across the photo from left to right. Crevasses aligned in this manner are called transverse crevasses.

Accelerated flow rates have also caused the crevasses in this second photo to form, only in this case the accelerated flow is due to a change in the gradient of the topography underlying the glacier, not because the glacier is flowing into a water body. These crevasses are also aligned perpendicular to the ice flow similar to the crevasses in the first photo; the cracks run from one side of the glacier to the other - from one valley wall to the other valley wall, while flow is from the upper right to the lower left. Thus, these are also examples of transverse crevasses.

Photo: crevasses

Photo: crevasses

Photo: P.J. Heglund. 2008. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library, image Volume1\BE37805C-65B8-D693-77BF365AFB90544A.jpg. <http://www.fws.gov/digitalmedia> Accessed June 2010. Photo credit: S. Hillebrand. 2008. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library, image Volume1\48C7DA67-9BE3-714B-A59837F3CEE84476.jpg. <http://www.fws.gov/digitalmedia> 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.