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The see of Rocky mountain National Park (Colorado) shows evidence of both glacial erosion and also deposition. The rocks in the foreground to be dropped by a retreating glacier, and also the hills in the background have actually been carved by glacial action.

julianum.net Photo/M. Reed

Glaciers can sculpt and also carve landscapes by eroding the land in ~ them and by depositing rocks and sediment.

You are watching: Glaciers cause erosion through plucking.


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This diagram shows exactly how glaciers can erode bedrock. Abrasion entails scratching the bedrock with debris in the basal ice. Plucking is remove of entire chunks that rock.

Courtesy the Rocky mountain National Park

Glaciers have the right to shape landscapes v erosion, or the removed of rock and also sediment.

They have the right to erode bedrock by two different processes:

Abrasion: The ice at the bottom that a glacier is not clean however usually has bits of rock, sediment, and also debris. It is rough, like sandpaper. Together a glacier flows downslope, it drags the rock, sediment, and also debris in its basal ice cream over the radical beneath it, grind it. This process is recognized as abrasion and produces scratches (striations) in bedrock surface.Plucking: The radical beneath a glacier regularly has crack in it that were there before it was ever before covered in ice. These cracks may flourish beneath the glacier, and also eventually join with one another. Once this happens, whole chunks of rock can break off and be carried away through the ice.

Glaciers can additionally erode sediment. This can happen in a variety of ways, including downward creep that the glacier ice into the sediment, freezing of water in sediments come the base of the glacier, and squishing the sediment around beneath the load of the ice.


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Moraines space piles of sediment deposited by glaciers. Sometimes, lock dam lakes, choose this moraine in former of Schoolroom Glacier (Grand Teton national Park).

julianum.net Photo/Reba McCracken

Glacier can additionally shape landscapes through depositing rocks and also sediment. Together the ice melts, the drops the rocks, sediment, and debris once consisted of within it. Ice cream at the glacier base might melt, depositing Glaciers can also move sediment from one ar to another when that flows over sediment beds.

Additionally, as soon as glaciers ice melts, the water the generates deserve to move and rework sediment. This is called glacial outwash.

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To learn much more about glaciers, glacier features, and glacial landforms, see the Glaciers & Glacial terrain Page.