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Moraine Formation at an Advancing Temperate Glacier: Brigsdalsbreen, Western Norway

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Owing to increased winter balances especially sinceAD1988/89, almost all valley outlet glaciers of Jostedalsbreen in western Norway are experiencing the largest advance since that of the early 18th century, the regional "Little Ice Age" maximum. Brigsdalsbreen advanced 441 m between 1987 and 1997. By the end of this period, the glacier had reached the outlet of the proglacial lake Brigsdalsvatnet, ploughing into unfrozen, fine-grained, water-soaked glaciolimnic sediments from the lake bottom and forming frontal moraines. These moraines are characterised by a lack of internal structures and preferred fabric. Owing to the strong advance, the moraine morphology is constantly changing, leaving only temporary moraine ridges.

Observations made along the glacier front suggest that the formation of these moraines can best be described as "bulldozed moraines", since the term push moraine, commonly associated with advancing glaciers, should be restricted to permafront environments. Different processes involved in moraine formation at frontal and lateral glacier margins result from variations in proglacial sediment properties, microrelief and glacier dynamics. Among these processes, large boulders left in the proglacial areas are pushed forward, forming pressure ridges on the distal side. Some of the largest boulders (c. 80–120 m3) are overturned or rotated by the glacier.

Keywords: High Drakensberg; blockstreams; debris deposits; slope processes

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Physical Geography, University of Trier, Germany, 2: Department of Geology, University of Bergen, Norway

Publication date: 1999-04-01

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