How do glaciers change the earth's surface?

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Don W. Share
May 11, 2015

When glaciers form and move, they pick up rocks from their base and sides. As they move they abrade the underlying ground surface like a gigantic file. The abrasion can be seen today as striations carved into the bedrock.

Continental glaciers abrade the ground surface or vast areas creating very flat terrain as observed in central Canada and the northern Midwest of the United States. In the mountains, alpine glaciers grind down mountain valleys and carve characteristic U-shaped valleys. Ahead of the glaciers, there is a mound of highly unsorted soil and rocks called glacial till that the glacier eroded. This mound of till is called a moraine. In Alpine glaciers there are ridges along the sides of the galacier (lateral moraines) and at the end of the glacier (terminal moraine).

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