Glacier in the Rocky Mountains – Definitions & Diagram


rocks active glacier in valley

A glacier gradually winding its way down a valley.

Glaciers play a enormous function in shaping the landscape of the Rocky Mountains.  Here is a definition and a diagram displaying proof of glaciers in the andscape.

Personally, I’ve generally been type of fascinated by glaciers.  I imply, they are these enormous (genuinely, genuinely, genuinely major) masses of ice that cover the landscape.  There are some smaller sized ones, but several other folks are just humongous.  I believe 1 of the other causes I’m enamored with them is since they are usually positioned in alpine locations (which I like).  These enormous masses of ice have shaped and are nonetheless shaping the rugged landscape of the Rocky Mountains.   Right here are some standard terms that show how they have shaped the landscape.

glacierWhat Is A Glacier?

DEFINITION –  A glacier is a gradually moving mass or river of ice that formed by the accumulation of snow more than time.

This suggests that a glacier is not just a snow field.  Rather, a glacier is like a massive ice cube that gets added onto each winter and is gradually sliding downhill.


A stunning U-shaped valley is clear proof of glaciers.

There’s Proof Of Glaciers In The Landscape If You Know What To Appear For

The most telling sign of glaciers is a massive U-shaped valley.  In mountains, rivers flow downhill and carve out a v-shaped valley.    However, when glaciers flow down these exact same valleys, they alter the landscape.  As the glaciers move down the valley they scrape away the sides to make it much more rounded and wider than it was previously.  Doing so creates a massive U-shaped valley.

Right here is a diagram that shows the proof of glaciers in the landscape.

diagram of evidence of glacier

Image courtesy of Jake’s Nature Guide: Rocky Mountains.

Other than the major U-shaped valley there are several other indicators of the proof of glaciers in the landscape.  Some of these are shown on the diagram and right here is what they are:

Moraines – Glaciers include lots of rocks that either fell onto the glacier or had been picked up by it. When the glacier melts these are dropped and kind a ridge of glacial debris. These are named moraines.  The glacier is melting each at the lowest or most downhill point of the glacier and along the sides.  The mound or ridge formed by the debris that collects at the finish of the glacier is named a terminal or finish moraine.  The debris that is dropped and deposited on the sides of the glacier is named a lateral moraine.


A tarn (Lake Summit) in a cirque under Mt. Evans in Colorado. Photo by way of Flickr.

Cirque – A bowl shaped depression at the head of a glacial valley with tall walls on 3 sides and open down the valley.  This is exactly where the glacier starts and the snow accumulates.  Rivers have headwaters exactly where they commence and the cirque is like the headwaters for a glacier.

Tarn – A modest lake in a cirque that is designed by the glacier.

Hanging Valley – When the glaciers get smaller sized or disappear the valleys of the tributaries are larger up and are termed hanging valleys.

Pater Noster Lakes – A string of lakes going up a glacial valley.

Truncated Spur – As the glacier flows about sharp curves in a valley it erodes away the sharpness and creates triangular shaped cliffs.

Arete – A steep sided, sharp edged ridge that is formed by two glaciers eroding the mountain on opposite sides of the ridge.


A glacial erratic. Photo by way of Flickr.

Erratics – This is a rock or boulder that is a distinctive type of rock than the rocks upon which it is sitting.  These rocks or boulders are picked up by a glacier and moved by it prior to dropping it in a distinctive place.

Glacial Striation – These are lengthy scratches and grooves in otherwise smooth rocks. Rocks stuck in the glacier gouged these lines in the bedrock as the glacier moved along more than it.


Appear at that stunning turquoise water.

Turquoise Water – The water in lakes, or streams whose water comes from glaciers acquires a brilliant turquoise colour. This takes place since as the glacier moves it picks up fine particles of rocks. When it melts this ‘rock flour’ goes into the water and the sunlight refracting off the particles in the water creates this colour.


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