Moraines are distinctive ridges or mounds of debris that room laid down directly by a glacier or thrust up by it1. The ax moraine is offered to explain a wide range of landforms developed by the dumping, pushing, and squeezing of loosened rock material, as well as the melting of glacial ice.

Moraine ridges on the forefield that the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. Photo: open minded K.

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In terms of size and shape, moraines are exceptionally varied. They selection from low-relief ridges the ~1 m high and ~1 m large formed at the snout of actively retreating sink glaciers2, to huge ‘till plains’ left behind by former continental ice sheets3.

Low-relief moraine ridges top top the forefield of the proactively retreating Skaftafellsjökull Glacier in Iceland. The moraines mark previous ice extent and also mirror the form of the glacier terminus at the moment of formation. Photo: TommyBee

Moraines consist of of loosened sediment and also rock debris deposited by glacier ice, known as till. Castle may also contain slope, fluvial, lake and also marine sediments if such product is present at the glacier margin, whereby it might be included into glacial ice during a glacier advance, or deformed by glacier movement4,5.

Moraine created of loose rock and also sediment developing at the lateral margin of the Boulder Glacier, Washington, USA. Photo: W. Siegmund.

Moraines are necessary features for understanding past environments. Terminal moraines, for example, mark the maximum extent of a glacier advancement (see diagram below) and also are provided by glaciologists to reconstruct the former size that glaciers and also ice sheets that have now shrunk or disappeared entirely6.

Summary that the key moraine species and your spatial patterns. The peak diagram is a cross-section with a cirque glacier. The bottom diagram is attracted in setup view, looking under on the surface of a sink glacier made up of number of tributaries. Image developed by J. Bendle.


The most usual moraine species are defined below:

A terminal moraine is a moraine ridge the marks the maximum limit of a glacier advance. They form at the glacier terminus and also mirror the form of the ice cream margin at the moment of deposition. The biggest terminal moraines are formed by major continental ice cream sheets and can be over 100 m in height and also 10s of kilometer long7,8.

Terminal moraine marking the limit of the former Patagonian ice Sheet at the last Glacial best (~25 to 18 thousand years ago). Photo: J. Bendle.

Recessional moraines are uncovered behind a terminal moraine limit and type during short-lived phases that glacier breakthrough or stillstand the interrupt a general pattern the glacier retreat. In part cases, recessional moraines form on a yearly basis (normally as a an outcome of winter glacier advances) and are known as annual moraines9,10,11.

Recessional moraines (arrowed) noting the shrinkage that a southern American sink glacier. The glacier (not shown) retreated in the direction of the south-west, leaving behind a moraine-dammed glacial lake. Imagery native GoogleEarth, diagram created by J. Bendle.

Lateral moraines form along the glacier side and consist the debris that falls or slumps indigenous the valley wall surface or flows straight from the glacier surface12 (see photo below). Wherein the rate of debris it is provided is high, lateral moraines can reach heights of much more than 100 metres12–15.

Lateral moraine the the Callequeo Glacier the the mountain Lorenzo Icefield in main Patagonia, south America. Photo: J. Martin.

The ax latero-frontal moraine is offered where debris builds up roughly the whole glacier tongue14. These moraine species are common in hill settings such as the european Alps, the southern Alps of brand-new Zeland (see the Mueller Glacier moraines below) and the Himalayas, where the high supply of absent debris from turbulent valley sides, rapidly develop up at the glacier margins.

Latero-frontal moraine facility of the Mueller Glacier, south Island, brand-new Zealand. The debris-covered and also downwasting Mueller Glacier is flanked by lateral moraines that ~100 m in height, which proceed down valley and also merge into terminal moraines. Imagery native GoogleEarth, diagram produced by J. Bendle.

Medial moraines are debris ridges in ~ the glacier surface ar running parallel to the direction of ice flow4,5. They room the surface (or supraglacial) expression of debris consisted of within the ice. Medial moraines kind where lateral moraines meet at the confluence of two valley glaciers, or whereby debris included in the ice is exposed in ~ the surface due to melting in the ablation zone16.

Medial moraines on the surface of one Alaskan valley glacier. In this example, surface ar debris is concentrated at the point where 2 glaciers merge. Imagery native GoogleEarth, diagram created by J. Bendle.

Ground moraine is a term offered to explain the uneven blanket of till deposited in the low-relief locations between much more prominent moraine ridges6. This form of moraine, which is additionally commonly described as a till plain, form at the glacier sole as due to the deformation and also eventual deposition of the substratum.

1. Hambrey,M. J. 1994. Glacial Environments. UCLPress.

2. Krüger,J., Schomacker, A. And Benediktsson, Í.Ö., 2010. 6 Ice-Marginal Environments:Geomorphic and Structural Genesis the Marginal Moraines at Mýrdalsjökull.Developmentsin Quaternary Sciences,13, 79-104.

3. Dyke,A.S. And Prest, V.K. 1987. Late Wisconsinan and Holocene background of theLaurentide ice cream Sheet. Geographie Physiqueet Quaternaire XLI, 237–63.

4. Benn,D.I. And Evans, D.J.A., 2010. Glaciersand Glaciation. Hodder Education.

5. Bennett,M.M. And also Glasser, N.F. 2011.Glacial Geology: ice cream Sheets and Landforms.John Wiley & Sons.

6.Schomacker, A. 2011. Moraine (Eds.)Singh, V.P., Singh, P. And also Haritashya, U.K. Encyclopediaof Snow, Ice and Glaciers. Springer.

7. Dyke,A.S., Andrews, J.T., Clark, P.U., England, J.H., Miller, G.H., Shaw, J. AndVeillette, J.J., 2002. The Laurentide and Innuitian ice cream sheets during the lastglacial maximum.Quaternary scientific research Reviews,21, 9-31.

8. Glasser,N.F., Jansson, K.N., Harrison, S. And Kleman, J., 2008. The glacialgeomorphology and Pleistocene background of south America between 38°S and also 56°S.QuaternaryScience Reviews,27, 365-390.

9. Sharp,M., 1984. Annual moraine ridges in ~ Skálafellsjökull, south-east Iceland.Journalof Glaciology,30, 82-93.

10. Bradwell,T., 2004. Annual moraines and summer temperatures at Lambatungnajökull,Iceland.Arctic, Antarctic, and also Alpine Research,36,502-508.

11. Beedle,M.J., Menounos, B., Luckman, B.H. And Wheate, R., 2009. Yearly push moraines asclimate proxy.Geophysical research study Letters,36.

12. Lukas,S., Graf, A., Coray, S. And also Schlüchter, C., 2012. Genesis, stability andpreservation potential of big lateral moraines the Alpine valleyglaciers–towards a unifying theory based on Findelengletscher,Switzerland.Quaternary scientific research Reviews,38, 27-48.

13. Benn,D.I. And also Owen, L.A., 2002. Himalayan glacial sedimentary environments: aframework for reconstructing and dating the former degree of glaciers in highmountains.Quaternary International,97, 3-25.

14. Benn,D.I., Kirkbride, M.P., Owen L.A. And Brazier, V. 2003. Glaciated valley Landsystems (Ed.) Glacial Landsystems, Arnold,London.

15. Evans,D.J., Shulmeister, J. And also Hyatt, O., 2010. Sedimentology of latero-frontalmoraines and fans top top the west coastline of south Island, new Zealand.QuaternaryScience Reviews,29, 3790-3811.

16. Eyles, N. And Rogerson, R.J., 1978. A frame for the investigation of medial moraine formation: Austerdalsbreen, Norway, and Berendon Glacier, brothers Columbia, Canada.

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Journal that Glaciology,20, 99-113.