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Physical Science-glacial terms

ablationThe loss of ice and snow from a glacier system. This occurs through a variety of processes including melting and runoff, sublimation, evaporation, calving, and wind transportation of snow out of a glacier basin.
accumulationThe addition of ice and snow into a glacier system. This occurs through a variety of processes including precipitation, firnification, and wind transportation of snow into a glacier basin from an adjacent area.
aretesA jagged, narrow ridge that separates two adjacent glacier valleys or cirques. The ridge frequently resembles the blade of a serrated knife. A French term referring to the bones in a fish backbone.
calvingThe process by which pieces of ice break away from the terminus of a glacier that ends in a body of water or from the edge of a floating ice shelf that ends in the ocean. Once they enter the water, the pieces are called icebergs.
cirquesA bowl-shaped, amphitheater-like depression eroded into the head or the side of a glacier valley. Typically, a cirque has a lip at its lower end. The term is French and is derived from the Latin word circus.
crevasseA crack or series of cracks that open in the surface of a moving glacier in response to differential stresses caused by glacier flow. They range in shape from linear to arcuate, in length from feet to miles. Their orientation may be in any direction with respect to the glacier flow. The deepest crevasses may exceed 100 feet.
drumlinsAn elongated ridge of glacial sediment sculpted by ice moving over the bed of a glacier. Generally, the down-glacier end is oval or rounded and the up-glacier end tapers. The shape is often compared to an inverted, blunt-ended canoe. Although not common in Alaska, drumlins cover parts of the Eastern and Midwestern United States (Irish).
firnAn intermediate stage in the transformation of snow to glacier ice. Snow becomes firn when it has been compressed so that no pore space remains between flakes or crystals, a process that takes less than a year.
glacierA large, perennial accumulation of ice, snow, rock, sediment and liquid water originating on land and moving down slope under the influence of its own weight and gravity; a dynamic river of ice. Glaciers are classified by their size, location, and thermal regime.
hanging valleyA former tributary glacier valley that is incised into the upper part of a U-shaped glacier valley, higher than the floor of the main valley. Hanging valley streams often enter the main valley as waterfalls.
hornsA 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 symmetrical faces, it is called a Matterhorn.
ice shlefThe floating terminus of a glacier, typically formed when a terrestrial glacier flow into a deep water basin, such as in Antarctica and the Canadian Arctic.
iceburgA block of ice that has broken or calved from the face of a glacier and is floating in a body of marine of fresh water. Alaskan icebergs rarely exceed 500 feet in maximum dimension. In order of increasing size, the following names are used: Brash Ice, Growler, Bergy Bit.
kettleA depression that forms in an outwash plain or other glacial deposit by the melting of an in-situ block of glacier ice that was separated from the retreating glacier-margin and subsequently buried by glacier sedimentation. As the buried ice melts, the depression enlarges.
terminal moraineA cross-valley, ridge-like accumulation of glacial sediment that forms at the farthest point reached by the terminus of an advancing glacier. Also called an End Moraine.
medial moraineA sediment ridge, located on a glacier's exposed ice surface, away from its valley walls, extending down glacier to the terminus. It forms by the joining of two lateral moraines when two glaciers merge.
lateral moraineA 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 valley wall, rather than by water deposition.
ground moraineA blanket of glacier till deposited on all of the surfaces over which a glacier moves, typically by moving ice.
pluckingThe mechanical removal of pieces of rock from a bedrock face that is in contact with glacier ice. Blocks are quarried and prepared for removal by the freezing and thawing of water in cracks, joints, and fractures. The resulting pieces are frozen into the glacier ice and transported.
striationsMultiple, generally parallel, linear grooves, carved by rocks frozen in the bed of a glacier into the bedrock over which it flows.
tierminusThe lower-most margin, end, or extremity of a glacier. Also called Toe, End or Snout.
tillAn unsorted and unstratified accumulation of glacial sediment, deposited directly by glacier ice. Till is a heterogeneous mixture of different sized material deposited by moving ice (lodgement till) or by the melting in-place of stagnant ice (ablation till). After deposition, some tills are reworked by water.
u-shaped valleyA valley with a parabolic or "U" shaped cross-section, steep walls and generally a broad and flat floor. Formed by glacier erosion, a U-shaped valley results when a glacier widens and over-steepens a V-shaped stream valley.

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