Lateroglacial valleys and landforms in the Karakoram Mountains (Pakistan)
Author: Iturrizaga, L.
Source: GeoJournal, Volume 54, Numbers 2-4, 2001 , pp. 397-428(32)
Lateroglacial landforms play a major role in the geomorphological landscape assemblage of the Karakoram Mountains. Nevertheless, in the past they have received only little attention in the glacial-geomorphological literature. In this article, the lateroglacial landscape will be presented as a geomorphological landscape unit. The Karakoram glaciers with lengths of up to 60 km are accompanied by lateroglacial sediment complexes over tens of kilometers. Besides their large horizontal distribution, they are spread over a considerable vertical range and occur between 2500 m–5000 m.
The traditional view is that primary processes of rock disintegration such as ice avalanches and freeze-thaw processes as well as glaciofluvial sediments are the main debris suppliers for the formation of lateroglacial sediment complexes. However, the investigation of the lateroglacial sediment landscape of the Karakoram glaciers showed, that firstly the secondary debris supply in form of reworking of older glacigenic deposits (Late glacial slope moraines) represents a major debris source. Secondly, the lateroglacial sediments are composed to a major part of debris supplies from the tributary valleys. In this regard, the sediment input by mudflow events accords a prominent role. Therefore a considerable proportion of the lateroglacial sediments is of non-glacial origin. This fact has to be taken into consideration regarding glacier reconstruction in recent unglaciated mountain valleys. Further on, resedimented mudflow deposits could be identified as important parent material for recent lateral moraine formation. The distribution of lateroglacial valleys (`lateral moraine valleys') was traditionally closely linked to differences in insolation, which are in the subtropical latitude very high (`ablation valleys'). Therefore the S-faced valley flank was seen as the favourable location for lateroglacial valleys. However, field observations on more than 20 glaciers in the Karakoram Mountains proved that lateroglacial valleys occur in all exposures, and can be even absent in S-exposure. Topographical factors seem to be more important than insolation differences for the distribution pattern. Only the distribution of `true ablation valleys' can be regarded as a result of insolation differences. In fact, they can act as initial form for the formation of lateral moraine valleys.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Geography/High Mountain Geomorphology, Institute of Geography, University of Göttingen, Goldschmidtstr. 5, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Publication date: 2001-01-01