Glacial Landforms YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Glacial Landform
Glacial Landforms Iamge

A glacier is a moving mass of ice at speeds averaging few meters a day.

Types of Glaciers: continental glaciers, ice caps, piedmont glaciers and valley glaciers.

Glacial Deposition

  • Outwash Plain: When the glacier reaches its lowest point and melts, it leaves behind a stratified deposition material called till plain or an outwash plain.
  • Esker: Winding ridge of un-assorted depositions of rock, gravel, clay etc. running along a glacier in a till plain.
  • Kame Terraces: Broken ridges or un-assorted depositions looking like hump in a till plain.
  • Drumlin: Inverted boat-shaped deposition in a till plain caused by deposition.
  • Kettle Holes: Formed when the deposited material in a till plain gets depressed locally and forms a basin.

Glacial Erosion

  • Plucking: Water freezes into joints in the rock. Glacier moves and rock is pulled away or ‘plucked’ from the base of the valley.
  • Abrasion: Rock plucked away by the glacier (moraine) scrapes the valley bottom and sides.
  • Freeze – thaw or frost shattering


  • Armchair shaped depression with a steep back wall and a shallow rock lip
  • Formed in high mountain areas where glaciers start
  • Snow collects in a small hollow
  • Compacts and turns to ice
  • Ice plucks rocks from the back wall
  • Ice scours the rock away through abrasion

U Shaped Valleys & Truncated Spurs

  • Formed as a glacier moves through a river valley removing the interlocking spurs
  • Steep sides and wide flat floor
  • Truncated spurs

Arêtes and Pyramidal Peaks

  • Two corries erode back to back
  • Narrow ‘knife edge’ like ridge
  • Three or more corries result in a ‘Pyramidal Peak’

Hanging Valleys

  • Former river tributary originally joined the river at the same height as the main valley
  • Glacier fills a former river valley- tributary glaciers join the main glacier at a higher level
  • Glacier erodes the tributary valley hanging at the side of the main valley
  • Stream plunges over the edge as a waterfall