Abstract

One hundred and nineteen rock glaciers were identified in an aerial photograph inventory of 4632 km2 in Jasper National Park, Alberta. Morphological subdivision indicated 33 lobate, 76 tongue-shaped and 10 spatulate rock glaciers, whereas a 'genetic' classification identified 65 'glacial' (ice-cored) and 54 'non-glacial' (ice-cemented) rock glaciers. Head elevations of the glacial group (mean 2318 m) are significantly higher than the non-glacial group (mean 2256 m). The total elevation range of rock glaciers is 1710–2670 m.Optimal rock glacier sites are below north- or northeast-facing quartzite cliffs in cirques or on valley walls. These topographic and geologic controls produce a greater concentration of rock glaciers in the Main Ranges than the Front Ranges. Rock glacier head elevations rise eastwards and, to a lesser extent, southward across the area in response to regional climatic and latitudinal effects. Two phases of pre-'Little Ice Age' rock glacier activity are recognized on morphologic grounds and, since Little Ice Age glaciers overrode most of the evidence of Holocene glacier fluctuation, provide a major source of information on Holocene climatic fluctuations. Preliminary data suggest most rock glacier activity pre-dates the Little Ice Age and the oldest phases probably occurred between 6600 and 9000 BP.

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