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Early structural glaciological research focused on analysis of particular structures or on mapping of structural features at particular glaciers. More recently, glacier structures have been interpreted in the context of deformation rates and histories measured or estimated using a range of techniques. These measurements indicate that glacier ice experiences complex, polyphase deformation histories that can include a wide range of types, rates and orientations of strain. Deformation styles in glacier ice resemble those in rocks, but occur at a much faster rate, allowing direct measurements to be undertaken, and providing potentially useful models of rock deformation. Structural analysis in the context of measured deformation shows that a wide range of structures (e.g. folds, foliations, boudins, shear zones, crevasses and faults) develop in response to complex strain environments, but strain does not necessarily result in the generation of structures. In the future, three-dimensional numerical modelling may be able to interpret and predict deformation histories and structural development.

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