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Occurrence of rocky and sedimentary glacier beds in the Swiss Alps as estimated from glacier-inventory data

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The occurrence of rocky and sedimentary glacier beds in the Swiss Alps was investigated using two approaches: (1) a detailed and systematic classification of glacier forefields in the completely revised Swiss glacier inventory; and (2) the application of an algorithm for estimating bed characteristics from glacier-inventory data. The algorithm is based on the assumption that the sediment balance of a glacierized catchment, i.e. the ratio between debris input from the surrounding rock walls and debris evacuation by the meltwater stream, determines the occurrence of rocky, sedimentary or mixed beds. The processes which govern the sediment balance within a glacierized catchment cannot be easily observed or measured in the field. However, the main factors reflecting them can be organized in the form of an erosion–sedimentation index. This index discriminates between glaciers eroding into bedrock and those building up thick sediment beds and, thus, allows for rough assessments concerning bed characteristics. Sedimentary and mixed sedimentary–rocky glacier beds clearly predominate in the Swiss Alps, but more detailed spatial analysis is required for better predictions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1999

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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