17.3. Glaciation – Review Questions

  • Describe how snow deposited on top of a glacier becomes glacial ice. What is the difference between snow and glacial ice?


  • What is the difference between an alpine and a continental glacier?


  • How do glaciers move?


  • How are sediments generated and moved around by glaciers?



  • Draw a cross-section through a glacier, from the zone of accumulation to the terminus and outwash plain. Label important features.







  • Where does ductile deformation occur in a glacier? Where does plastic deformation occur in a glacier?








  • Draw examples of glacial erosional features. Describe how each feature is formed.

  • What is the difference between a glacial till and a river deposited conglomerate, in terms of (a) formation processes and (b) characteristics of the particles in the sediments/rock?



  • Go to Google Maps or Google Earth. Zoomed out (and viewing in Earth mode for Google Maps):
    • Find examples of glaciation on Earth today. Note down the locations (continent, mountain chain) for a few of these examples.



      • Where in Canada do you find alpine glaciers? Where in Europe? Asia? The southern hemisphere?


      • Find examples of ice sheets, and  ice shelves.



    • Let’s search for evidence of past glaciation.
      • Continental glaciation features are very common in Saskatchewan! In some locations, we can clearly see them from above. Cut and paste the following coordinates into Google Maps or Google Earth, and draw and describe the glacial feature located at each set of coordinates. See if you can find other examples of the same kinds of features in nearby areas.
        • (a) 57°59’1.37″N 107°26’58.99″W
        • (b) 57°53’12.04″N 109°25’19.19″W
        • (c) 52° 2’3.60″N 106°32’3.13″W

    • Search for “Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre” on Google Maps, and take 5-10 minutes to explore this area in plan view and in street view. What glacial erosional and depositional features can you see? Sketch a few of them. Think about the processes that form each of these features.






    • Moving back to plan view in the Columbia Icefields area, look for lakes near this location. What colour are they? Why do you think they are this colour?


  • What are Milankovitch cycles? Draw the three Milankovitch cycles below. How does the Earth’s orbit and the angle of its axis change through time? How do they influence the Earth’s climate?





Extra review questions that may be covered in lecture (depending on your professor) that are not completely covered in the the textbook readings:

  • Describe the relationships between elevation, latitude, and occurrence of glaciers.


  • What is the difference between a temperate and a polar glacier?


  • How does the amount of glaciation influence sea level? How has glaciation varied through time, over the Pleistocene period in Earth history?


  • What evidence is preserved in glacial ice that tells us about previous climate conditions, including temperature conditions?


  • Which ice sheet covered Saskatchewan during the last glacial maximum? Which one covered Europe? Newfoundland?


  • When did the last ice sheet finish retreating from the North American continent?




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Physical Geology Workbook Copyright © 2019 by Joyce M. McBeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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