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A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation (melting and sublimation) over many years, often centuries. Glaciers slowly deform and flow due to stresses induced by their weight, creating crevasses, seracs, and other distinguishing features. They also abrade rock and debris from their substrate to create landforms such as cirques and moraines. Glaciers form only on land and are distinct from the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that form on the surface of bodies of water.

Contributors in Glaciers



Water bodies; Glaciers

The current part of geologic time. The Holocene epoch began ~12,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch.

lateral moraine

Water bodies; Glaciers

A sediment ridge, located on a glacier's surface adjacent to the valley walls, extending down glacier to the terminus. It forms by the accumulation of rock material falling onto the glacier from the ...

hanging glacier

Water bodies; Glaciers

A glacier that originates high on the wall of a glacier valley and descends only part of the way to the surface of the main glacier. Avalanching and icefalls are the mechanisms for ice and snow ...

chatter marks

Water bodies; Glaciers

A series of small, closely spaced, crescentic grooves or scars formed in bedrock by rocks frozen in basal ice as they move along and chip the glacier's bed. The horns of the crescent generally point ...

reconstituted glacier

Water bodies; Glaciers

A glacier formed below the terminus of a hanging glacier by the accumulation, and reconstitution by pressure melting (regelation), of ice blocks that have fallen and/or avalanched from the terminus ...

ice-dammed lake

Water bodies; Glaciers

A lake that exists because its water is restricted from flowing by an ice dam. Sometimes these lakes form because an advancing glacier had blocked a valley.


Water bodies; Glaciers

A pointed, mountain peak, typically pyramidal in shape, bounded by the walls of three or more cirques. Headward erosion has cut prominent faces and ridges into the peak. When a peak has four ...

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