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