Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536



Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536
Textbook Problem

How do glaciers move?

To determine

The movement of glaciers.


Glaciers move like the slow types of mass wasting, which humans usually cannot see it directly. Majority of the glaciers move through a combination of processes such as plastic flow, basal sliding, and force of gravity, but the dominant process is the internal plastic deformation or plastic flow; almost all the moving glaciers experience this type of flow.

Glaciers move plastically when the overlying weight of ice causes ice crystals at deeper portions to arrange in parallel layers that slide over each other. This plastic deformation takes place when the weight of the overlying ice exceeds a threshold value of pressure (weight per unit area). This threshold pressure is attained at a glacial thickness of about 30 meters (100 ft.), and the ice experiencing plastic flow extends from that depth to the bottom of the glacier.

The speed of glacial flow increases with increasing pressure from overlying materials and with steeper slopes. Pressure is greater under thicker ice accumulations and on the up flow side of obstructions at the glacier’s bottom.

Internal plastic deformation causes continental glaciers to flow radially outward in all the directions from the central thicker areas of ice to the thinner marginal areas of ice...

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