Several erosional forms on bedrock at Cantley, Quebec, differ from well-known glacial abrasion forms. The forms consist of obstacle marks, hollows, depressions, and channels, which are defined by sharp rims, smooth inner surfaces, divergent flow features, and remnant ridges. These forms are found on lee, lateral, and overhung rock surfaces. This assemblage of features is best explained by differential erosion produced by separation eddies along lines of reattachment. Rapid, sediment-laden, turbulent, subglacial melt-water flows likely produced the forms by corrasion and cavitation erosion.
Sculpted fluvial forms in terrain subject to flooding in Australia are identical to some of the Cantley forms which confirms their formation by water erosion. Although glacial abrasion may not be eliminated as an explanation for sculpted forms, it is not necessary.
Ice-abrasion forms, such as striations, and such plucked forms as gouges and crescentic fractures are also present at the Cantley site. Pitted forms, polishing, and carbonate precipitate are also found. The occurrence of abrasion, pitting, polishing, and carbonate precipitate with meltwater forms suggests that the meltwater flows were subglacial. Decoupling of abrading ice from its bed temporarily suspended glacial abrasion, whereas reattachment of ice to the bed may have led to the rounding of sharp edges and the production of striations superposed on the glacifluvial forms.
The association of forms produced both by glacifluvial erosion and ice abrasion suggests that the glacier was alternately lifted from, and reattached to, the bed during periodic subglacial floods. These floods may have affected the dynamics of the ice sheet, and depositional sequences related to catastrophic meltwater outbursts probably were laid down in adjacent basins.