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Sunday, 13 November 2011

Calving embayments

This is an extraordinary high-definition photo from Svalbard, showing a number of glacier snouts close together at the head of a coastal embayment -- and a number of amazing calving embayments in the glacier snouts.  These are very unusual features, especially since they penetrate far inland from the snout positions.  Look especially at the top left quadrant of the photo.  This means that the water must be very shallow here, with large parts of the glacier snouts grounded, and calving only possible in the centre of the rock basins cut by the ice.

The other fascinating thing (which you can see if you click and enlarge the image) is just how superficial the morainic debris is -- look carefully at the ice cliffs on each snout, and you will see clean ice beneath the dirty surface ice.  This attests to the fact that most of the material in the medial and lateral moraines has come down onto the ice surface from the valley sides as a result of frost shattering, slope collapse and gravity working together.

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