The formation of Alpine lateral moraines inferred from sedimentology and radar reflection patterns: a case study from Gornergletscher, Switzerland
S. Lukas, O. Sass, 2011. "The formation of Alpine lateral moraines inferred from sedimentology and radar reflection patterns: a case study from Gornergletscher, Switzerland", Ice-Marginal and Periglacial Processes and Sediments, I. P. Martini, H. M. French, A. PéRez Alberti
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Studies on the formation of alpine lateral moraines are rare; consequently, their internal structure and their modes of formation are relatively poorly understood. We present here sedimentological and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data from a lateral moraine complex where an exposure allows radar facies to be compared to the field evidence. The moraine, which is slightly asymmetric with a slightly steeper distal slope, consists of alternating clast- and matrix-supported stratified diamicts and intercalated sorted sediment units which are all subparallel to the moraine surface. They are interpreted as subaerial debris flows and fluvial sediments, respectively. The GPR, using frequencies of 50, 100 and 200 MHz, allows tracing of very similar subparallel reflectors to c. 10 m into the subsurface. These are interpreted to represent the diamict units while the thickness of the sorted sediment units is below GPR resolution. Our data suggests that a two or three frequency approach supplemented by common-midpoint (CMP) measurements works well in glaciated high-mountain environments. Based on our sedimentological and GPR data we develop a conceptual framework for the formation of successive lateral moraines which involves ice-contact fan sedimentation, followed by collapse and incremental reworking of the proximal side during glacier retreat.