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Abstract

Cold-based glaciers have long been recognized as capable of covering and protecting landscapes. However, recent studies of modern cold-based glaciers in Antarctica show that, in some situations, erosion, deformation and deposition can occur. Recognizing the dual ability of cold-based glaciers to protect and preserve surfaces on the one hand and erode and modify on the other is important for correctly interpreting the often-subtle imprint of cold-based glaciers on landscapes. A range of geomorphological features related to cold-based glacier activity has now been documented along with an improved understanding of cold-based glacier structure, processes and interaction with various substrates. Collectively, this provides an enhanced ability to understand the impact of cold-based glaciers on landscapes and reappraise the geomorphological record. Such insight allows recognition of previously unknown glacial events and better interpretations of the landscape exposure record. This is particularly important at the margins of the Antarctic Ice Sheets, where past fluctuations in ice sheet volume and its contributions to post glacial sea-level rise are poorly constrained. This paper reviews the known geomorphological evidence associated with cold-based glaciers in the South Victoria Land region of the Transantarctic Mountains. It aims to provide progress towards a set of criteria for recognizing cold-based glacier activity in other regions and to highlight the implications of cold-based glacial activity for surface exposure studies and interpreting glacial history.

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