Wearing-down and removal of rocks and soil by a glacier
. Glacial erosion forms impressive landscape features, including glacial troughs
(U-shaped valleys), arêtes
(steep ridges), corries
(enlarged hollows), and pyramidal peaks
(high mountain peaks with three or more arêtes).
Erosional landforms result from abrasion
and plucking of the underlying bedrock. Abrasion is caused by the rock debris carried by a glacier, wearing away the bedrock. The action is similar to that of sandpaper attached to a block of wood. The results include the polishing and scratching of rock surfaces to form powdered rock flour, and scratches or striations which indicate the direction of ice movement. Plucking is a form of glacial erosion restricted to the lifting and removal of blocks of bedrock already loosened by freezethaw
The most extensive period of recent glacial erosion was the Pleistocene
epoch (1.6 million to 10,000 years ago) in the Quaternary
period (last 2 million years) when, over a period of 2 to 3 million years, the polar icecaps repeatedly advanced and retreated. More ancient glacial episodes are also preserved in the geological record, the earliest being in the middle Precambrian
era (4.6 billion to 570 million years ago) and the most extensive in Permo-Carboniferous times.
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