Two exposures of basal ice in Alaska and Greenland, which have previously provided the basis for contrasting models of basal-ice development, are in fact directly comparable. Reinterpretation of previous field descriptions, combined with new structural and sedimentological data from West Greenland, facilitates a simple unification of previous models of basal-ice development and a common terminology for the field description of basal-ice sequences. The stratigraphy of the basal-ice sequence at any site indicates the subglacial conditions and processes operating up-glacier of that site. Presented here are interpretations of the major sequence types.

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