Glacier Facts



  • Glaciers move slowly but their sheer weight and size give them enormous power to shape the landscape.
  • Over tens of thousands of years glaciers carve out winding valleys into huge, straight U-shaped troughs.
  • Glaciers may truncate (slice off) tributary valleys to leave them ‘hanging, with a cliff edge high above the main valley. Hill spurs (ends of hills) may also be truncated.
  • Cirques, or corries, are armchair-shaped hollows carved out where a glacier begins high up in the mountains.
  • Valley glaciers are long, narrow bodies of ice that fill high mountain valleys.
  • ArĂ©tes are knife-edge ridges that are left between several cirques as the glaciers in them cut backwards.
  • Drift is a blanket of debris deposited by glaciers. Glaciofluvial drift is left by the water made as the ice melts. Till is left by the ice itself.
  • Drumlins are egg-shaped mounds of till. Eskers are snaking ridges of drift left by streams under the ice.
  • Moraine is piles of debris left by glaciers.
  • Proglacial lakes are lakes of glacial meltwater dammed up by moraine.
  • After an Ice Age, glaciers leave behind a dramatically altered landscape of deep valleys and piles of debris.
  • After the last Ice Age, water from the huge Lake Agassiz submerged over 500,000 sq km of land near Winnipeg, in North America.