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Longitudinal variations in cross-section morphology along a glacial valley: a case-study from the Tien Shan, China

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A new model, the variable width/depth ratio (VWDR) model, is used to analyze longitudinal variations in cross-section morphology along glacial valleys. In the VWDR, the cross-sectional shape of a valley is expressed as a function of the width/depth ratio at various heights above the valley floor. Two parameters, m, a measure of the breadth of the valley floor, and n, a measure of the steepness of the valley sides, appear in the model. We have used the VWDR model to study morphological variations of cross-sections along glacial valleys in the middle Tien Shan mountains, China, and find that: (1) in valleys without tributaries, m increases (the valley floor becomes wider) and n becomes more negative (valley sides become steeper) from the head of the valley to the equilibrium line, and then m decreases and n becomes less negative to the end of the valley; (2) in valleys with tributaries, a similar pattern is observed, with an oscillating maximum in m and minimum in n in those sections where a tributary enters the main valley. These characteristics are believed to reflect a maximization of glacial erosion potential in the vicinity of the equilibrium line and in locations of confluence.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2001

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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