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Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536

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BuyFindarrow_forward

Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536
Textbook Problem

How do alpine glaciers differ from streams in terms of flow processes, erosion processes, load characteristics, valley shaping, and nature of tributary valleys?

To determine

The way in which alpine glaciers differ from streams in terms of flow processes, erosion processes, load characteristics, valley shaping, and nature of tributary valleys.

Explanation

Flow processes: The mechanisms that is involved in the migration of almost all the glaciers is internal plastic deformation (plastic flow), which occurs due to the weight of the overlying glaciers exerting compressional pressure on the lower layers making it to move. The pressure can also cause the deep layers to melt and poodles of melt water can accumulate in the base of the glaciers, allowing it to move. This phenomenon is called basal sliding, which is common in temperate environments where slipping along their base due to the presence of water and, by local melting of glaciers, where meltwater flows downslope, and refreezing along the base of the glacier. In addition, to the pressure, gravitational force plays a major role especially in sloping terrains.

Erosion processes: The two erosional processes by which glaciers remove and carry rock particles during their flow is glacial plucking and glacial abrasion. Glacial plucking is the process by which moving ice freezes onto loose rock fragments and sediments, thereby incorporating them into the flow.

Weathering process initiates plucking especially when water freezes in the bedrock joints and fractures thereby breaking the rock into loose fragments. These loose fragments are clastic fragments that will be incorporated in the base and side of the glaciers and carried along with them. When these sharp clastic particles travel across a surface, tend to scrap, and gouge more rock materials by an erosional process called abrasion.

The volume and velocity of a stream flow directly determines the sizes of the particles. However, it is not in the case of the particles eroded and transported by plastically flowing glaciers.

Load characteristics: The bedrock load on the base and sides of the glacier obtained by plucking and abrasion occur in all sizes, ranging from rock flour (collective term for clay sized particles and crushed rock) to giant boulders...

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