List of 15 Glacial Erosional Landforms

List of 15 Glacial Erosional Landforms

Posted by Manisha on May 26, 2020

Glacier, after listening or reading this word, the first image which comes into mind is White snow, spread all over and everywhere like the Hollywood famous movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. And while watching this movie so many questions come to mind about the actual glacier and its landforms.

Glacial landforms are the landforms that are formed by the action of the glacier. 
The movement of glacier results in the formation of various landforms by erosional, transportation, and depositional process just like river.

International deformation and basal sliding are responsible for the movement of glaciers under the influence of gravity.

Glacial landforms are further divided into three types of landforms. These are :

  1. Erosional Landform
  2. Depositional Landform
  3. Lakes and Ponds

In my post How much area is covered by a glacier, I already discussed its properties and factors affecting the speed of a glacier.

Now in this post, I am going to discuss the Erosional Glacial landform with a small illustration.

Erosion is generally greater than deposition in the upper part of the glacier valley.

What are Glacial erosional landforms?

The landforms which are formed due to the erosional work process of the glacier are known as Erosional landforms.

Glacial erosional landforms are caused by two different processes : 

  • Abrasion   
  • Plucking

15 Glacial Erosional Landforms

Here, I would like to share 15 major glacial erosional landforms, one by one. Let’s continue:

1. Striation

These are linear marks and scratches, generated by the movement of the glacier on the surface of the rock.
They can show a polished looking hard rock surface, which is made by glacial movement, which is also known as Glacial striation.
Through the study of striation, we came to know about the direction of the movement of a glacier.

2. Cirque
  • It is a French word which means ‘circle’.
  • These are amphitheater shaped (circular or oval-shaped) basin with precipitous walls (dangerous steep slope), at the head of a glacier valley.
  • It is opened with one side and covered with steep walls from three sides.
  • It is also known as different names in different countries like in Germany it is known as Karren, in Scotland – Corrie, in Wells – Cwm, in Norway – Born, and in Scandinavia – Kassel.

A famous example of the cirque is in France known as Cirque-de-Gavarnie.

3. Glacial Horns

These are the pointed peaks of mountains, which are formed due to the erosion of a mountain peak from at least three sides with three or more glaciers.

Matterhorn, part of the Alps in Switzerland is the famous glacial horn.
Trishul mountain of India is also an example of the horn.
Horns are also known as Pyramidal Peak.

4. Arêtes

Arête is a French word, which means edge or ridge. It is a narrow ridge of rocks formed when two glaciers erode on both sides of the mountain top.
For example, In Alps, Andes, Himalaya mountain Arête landforms were found.

5. Comb Ridge

When Arête was further eroded by glaciers and formed many small peaks on it, then it looks like a big comb. That is why it is named as comb ridge.
For example, found in Himalaya, Alps, and Karkesh mountain.

6. Trim Lines

It is a clear line, formed on the side of a valley, formed by a glacier. This marks the most recent highest extent of the glacier, can be seen due to change in Color of rock, or to change in vegetation. 
For example, found in Alaska, USA.

7. Col or Pass or Gap

It is a gap between two mountain ridges at its lowest point. People use it as a short cut to travel between two valleys and also by mountain climbers or Mountaineers.
For example, Khyber Pass provides the route and connects Pakistan and Afghanistan in Hindukush mountain.

8. Saddle

It is a saddle-shaped landform found between the two highest peaks.

9. U-Shaped valley

It is glacial ‘Trough’, formed when glaciation develops in already established v-shaped river valley, here the ice erodes the surrounding rocks to create a u-shaped valley. It is flat at the bottom and steep by sides.

10. Roches Moutonnees of sheep rocks

It is formed by the passing of glacier over a big rock which lies in between its way.
The passage of glacier ice over underlying bedrock often results in asymmetric erosional forms as a result of abrasion on the ‘stoss’ (upstream) side of the rock and plucking on the ‘lee’ (downstream) side.

11. Overdeepenings 

It is the basins and valleys eroded by glaciers. It is a valley profile often eroded to depth, high hundreds of meters below along a valley or watercourse.

12. D-Fjord

It is a deep, narrow, and elongated sea or lake drain, with steep land on its three sides. Around 1200 fjords are found. It is an inlet of the sea between steep cliffs.
This could be of both freshwater, as well as saltwater depends upon its opening into the lake or in the ocean.

For example, found in Western Norway.

13. Hanging valley

In simple words – it is a valley which cut across by deep valley or cliff.
It is a valley that leads to form another valley below, that is why known as hanging valley.
It is simply a valley elevated above another valley with its one end open to the valley below.
Formed when different glacial tributaries meet with the main u-shaped valley and there may be a cliff or steep formation happens.

For example, Birdman woman Fall Glacier National Park mountain of U.S.A, and Hanging valley of Yosemite National Park California, U.S.A.

14. Crevasses

It is a deep open crack or fracture into a glacier. Mostly found in an ice sheet. Usually form in the top 50 meters of a glacier where ice is brittle.

15. Bergschrund

It is a type of crevasses. Cracks that appear between the moving ice of a glacier and the non-moving or say stagnant ice of a mountain or cliff.

These are the 15 major glacial erosional landforms.
What do you know about glaciers? Do you have any other information or anything regarding this which you would like to share with us here, then your most welcome and pleasure will be mine.  

Also don’t forget to write to me about, Which glacial erosional landform you liked the most?