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The formation of Alpine lateral moraines inferred from sedimentology and radar reflection patterns: a case study from Gornergletscher, Switzerland

By
S. Lukas
S. Lukas
School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS
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O. Sass
O. Sass
Institute of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz, Heinrichstraße 36, 8010 Graz, Austria
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Published:
January 01, 2011

Abstract

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.

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Geological Society Special Publication

Ice-Marginal and Periglacial Processes and Sediments

I. P. Martini
I. P. Martini
University of Guelph, Canada
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H. M. French
H. M. French
University of Guelph, Canada
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A. PéRez Alberti
A. PéRez Alberti
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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Geological Society of London
Volume
354
ISBN electronic:
9781862396029
Publication date:
January 01, 2011

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