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Glacial Erosion
Glacial Landforms - Upland Features
Glacial Landforms - Lowland features
Case Study - Helvellyn, Lake District


Glaciation is the study of ice and its impact on the environment.
The Ice Age in Britain lasted from about one million years ago to about 20 000 years ago. During that time the Northern and Eastern parts of the British Isles were covered in ice. Glaciers were formed which move down valleys with great erosive power. These glaciers carved new scenery. How do glaciers
form and flow?

Glacial Erosion

There are three main types of glacial erosion - plucking, abrasion and freeze thaw.

[Glacial Erosion]

Plucking is when meltwater from a glacier freezes around lumps of cracked and broken rock. When the ice moves downhill, rock is plucked from the back wall. Abrasion is when rock frozen to the base and the back of the glacier scrapes the bed rock. Freeze-thaw is when meltwater or rain gets into cracks in the bed rock, usually the backwall. At night the water freezes, expands and causes the crack to get larger. Eventually the rock will break away.

Glacial Landforms - Upland Features

Upland glacial features include:

Corrie - This is an arm chair shaped hollow found in the side of a mountain, e.g. Helvellyn, Lake District


Arete - This is a narrow, knife edge ridge separating two corries, e.g. Striding Edge, Helvellyn.

[pyramidal peak]

Pyramidal Peaks - These are formed when three or more corries form in the side of one mountain, e.g. The Matterhorn, Austria or Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park, Wales

Tarn - This is a lake found in a corrie, e.g. Red Tarn, The Lake District

Glacial Landforms - Lowland Features

Lowland glacial features include:

U-shaped Valley - This a valley which was V-shaped but has been eroded by ice. The valley sides are steeper and the valley floor flatter after the ice melts. Hence the name U-shaped valleys.

Truncated Spurs - These are spurs which have been cut through by ice, e.g. Nant Francon Valley, Snowdonia.

Hanging Valleys - These occur when glaciers at higher levels than the main valley didn't experience such powerful erosion. Tributary streams enter the valley as waterfalls from hanging valleys.

Ribbon Lakes - These are lakes found in U-shaped valleys, e.g. Lake Windermere, Lake District.

Drumlins - These are hills shaped like eggs! (see diagram below)

[Drumlins diagram]

Drumlins are blunt at one end and tapered at the other. Drumlins are found in swarms called 'basket of eggs' topography. This is because they look like eggs in a basket! They are formed when ice is moving forward, but is also melting. The ice deposits boulder clay and till when it comes across a small obstacle (e.g. small rock outcrop). Most material is deposition the 'up stream' end of the drumlin. The down stream end is shaped by the ice.

Case Study - Helvellyn, Lake District

The following links are to web sites containing case study information about Helvellyn, an area containing glaciated landforms in the Lake District, England.

Helvellyn- 360 3D view of Helvellyn
Helvellyn - Pictures
Corrie glaciers - Helvellyn - A great case study of a corrie
glacier in the UK. Ideal for GCSE


GeoNet is not responsible for the content of any of these sites

Geography Exchange - Glaciers


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