Typical debris accumulation forms and formations in High Asia – A glacial-history-based concept of the origin of Postglacial debris accumulation landscapes in subtropical high mountains with selected examples from the Hindu Kush, the Karakoram and the Himalayas
Author: Iturrizaga, L.
Source: GeoJournal, Volume 47, Number 1, 1999 , pp. 377-339
An abridged version of a geomorphological inventory and typology of Postglacial debris accumulations in High Asia is presented, with selected examples from the Hindu Kush, the Karakoram and the Himalayas. The debris accumulations were surveyed in the course of four research expeditions lasting a total of ten months in selected valley systems of High Asia (the eastern Hindu Kush, the northwestern Karakoram, the Nanga Parbat massif (Pakistan), the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges, the Nun Kun massif, the Kumaon and Garhwal Himalayas with the Kamet, Trisul and Nanda Devi massifs (India) and in the central Himalayas with the Kanjiroba, Annapurna, Manaslu and Makalu massifs (Nepal)). The study areas being widely scattered, a supraregional comparison of the debris accumulations proved possible. The debris accumulations are considered in centre-to-periphery sequences from the mountain interior to the mountain fringes, and in vertical sequences, i.e. altitudinal zones, taking into account their topographical relationship to adjoining elements of the landscape. Supraregional and climate-specific types of debris accumulation are distinguished and it is recognized that the debris accumulations of the Karakoram and the Himalayas resemble each other more closely with increasing elevation.
The core of the study is the dominant role played by past glaciation in the formation of Postglacial debris accumulations in the high mountains of Asia. This glacial-history-oriented concept of debris accumulation stands in sharp contrast to previous opinions about the genesis of the debris accumulation landscape in the extreme high mountains of Asia. The study shows that at many places morainic deposits mask extensive portions of the valley sides up to several hundred metres above the valley floor. These moraines are the main debris sources and exert a strong influence on, or even suppress, the purely slope-related formation of debris accumulations. Resedimentation of morainic material in combination with additional talus delivery leads to numerous characteristic composite types of debris accumulations, which are here termed transitional glacial debris accumulations. Various stages in the transition from moraine to slope-related debris accumulations were observed, making it necessary to consider the evolutional element in the development of debris accumulations by taking into account both genetic series of debris accumulations and formations of debris accumulations. A significant proportion of debris accumulations are also due to collapse processes which result from pressure release at the valley sides after deglaciation and occur in the course of glacial trough valleys being transformed into more stable fluvial V-shaped valleys.
The residual morainic landscape has left debris accumulations that are basically similar in study areas of different climate – i.e. in the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram on the one hand, and the Himalayas on the other. The age classification of the debris accumulations was based on the location of the slope-derived debris accumulations in relation to the corresponding stages of glaciation.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Göttingen, Goldschmidtstr. 5, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Publication date: 1999