Glacial Landforms

GCSE Geography Resources

Are you looking for high-quality GCSE Geography resources? If so, you can save yourself a lot of time by downloading our modules below.

hazards

Compatible with the following exam boards

aqa
ocr
edexcel
cie
Glacial Landforms
Glacial Landforms

There are seven main glacial landforms that you should know about. They include:

1. Truncated Spurs

A long time ago, glaciers will have had to move from one area to another. While they were moving, they would have cut off different areas of land. We can see evidence of this when walking through valleys. Have you ever noticed that there are cliff-like edges with exposed rock faces? These are called truncated spurs.

2. Corries

Corries are quite easy to spot because they look like small hollows. A lot of them have a distinctive armchair shape and most of them contain small bodies of water that we call tarns.

3. Ribbon Lakes

If you are asked to spot a ribbon lake during your exam, then you are in for an easy time. You just have to look for a lake that is elongated in appearance. When glaciers retreated, ribbon lakes were left behind.

4. Glacial Troughs

Glacial troughs are also relatively easy to spot. They look like valleys that have really steep sides, but they usually have an area of flat ground at the bottom.

5. Hanging Valleys

Hanging valleys are similar to glacial troughs, but the glaciers that formed them were smaller. They are less deep than glacial troughs and because the glaciers were smaller, they would have melted before they had the chance to reach low ground. This means that you can usually spot hanging valleys quite high.

6. Pyramidal Peaks

A pyramidal peak is something that looks like a pointed mountain peak. When back-to-back glaciers eroded a mountain, pyramidal peaks formed.

7. Arêtes

Plenty of hikers will be familiar with arêtes, but they might not be familiar with the term. An arête could easily be described as a narrow, jagged path with steep drops at either side.

Glacial Erosion

As glaciers moved, they caused erosion. This erosion was caused by either plucking or abrasion. Plucking occurred because meltwater would freeze onto passing rocks. As the glacier moved, the rocks would have been pulled along too. Abrasion involved the glacier and the rocks that had been picked up against the land that they travelled over.

As glaciers moved, they caused erosion. This erosion was caused by either plucking or abrasion. Plucking occurred because meltwater would freeze onto passing rocks. As the glacier moved, the rocks would have been dragged along too. Abrasion involved the glacier and the rocks that had been picked up wearing against the land that they travelled over like sandpaper.

Glacial Deposition

Glaciers were capable of transporting a lot of material at once because of all of the rocks that they picked up. That material could not simply disappear. It had to end up somewhere.

Moraines

Now that you know the seven distinctive glacial landforms that you should look for, you also need to know about moraines. These are made out of something called a till. Till is material that is dropped by a glacier as it melts.

There are four different types of moraines:

1. Terminal Moraines

Terminal moraines are easy to recognise if you imagine them as the terminal stop of the glacier. They mark the furthest point that the glacier managed to reach.

2. Medial Moraines

Medial moraines can usually be identified as a long ridge that can be found on the floor of a valley.

3. Lateral Moraines

Lateral moraines formed at the side of a glacier. They are usually made of material that has been plucked from the walls of a valley.

4. Ground Moraines

Ground moraines are easy to spot because they are made out of the material that was dragged along the base of the glacier. This means that they usually cover quite a large area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are glaciers, and how do they form and move over time?

Glaciers are large masses of ice formed from the accumulation and compaction of snow. They move due to their own weight and gravity.

Explain the formation of glacial valleys, including U-shaped valleys, and how they are carved by glacial erosion.

U-shaped valleys are created by the downward movement and erosion of glaciers, which scrape and shape the landscape.

Describe glacial features like moraines, eskers, and drumlins, and how they reflect the actions of glaciers.

Moraines are piles of glacial debris, eskers are winding ridges of sediment, and drumlins are elongated hills formed by glacial activity.

How do glacial landforms, including cirques, tarns, and aretes, provide evidence of past glaciations and the effects of climate change?

These landforms showcase the sculpting power of glaciers and help scientists reconstruct past climate and ice sheet behaviour.

Discuss the impact of glacial melt and retreat on sea levels and the environment, and how this phenomenon is influenced by global warming.

Glacial melt contributes to rising sea levels, affecting coastal regions. Global warming accelerates glacial retreat, intensifying these impacts.

Cite/Link to This Article

  • "Glacial Landforms". Geography Revision. Accessed on July 19, 2024. https://geography-revision.co.uk/gcse/cold-environments/glacial-landforms/.

  • "Glacial Landforms". Geography Revision, https://geography-revision.co.uk/gcse/cold-environments/glacial-landforms/. Accessed 19 July, 2024.

  • Glacial Landforms. Geography Revision. Retrieved from https://geography-revision.co.uk/gcse/cold-environments/glacial-landforms/.