Glacial Erosional Features

Active cirque and headwall. Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory, Canada.

Cirques are the bowl-shaped regions at the head of a glacier--they're bowl-shaped because the glaciers scour the underlying bedrock and erode the mountain sides behind them into cliffs called headwalls. Peaks that are surrounded by cirques are called horns; ridges between cirques are called aretes. Both tend to be steep and jagged.

Most glaciated areas in the conterminous United States no longer contain glaciers--but they show the characteristic features. Below are some examples. Click on any of the images for a larger view.

Comparison of actively glaciated region and previously glaciated one: SE Alaska and Sierra Nevada, California.

Cirques, Headwalls, Horns.

Glacial Striations!

Return to Glaciation.