Sediment, glaciohydraulic supercooling, and fast glacier flow

Richard B. Alley, Daniel E. Lawson, Edward B. Evenson, Grahame J. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Glaciers often advance over proglacial sediments, which then may enhance basal motion. For glaciers with abundant meltwater, thermodynamic considerations indicate that the sediment-ice contact in the direction of ice flow tends toward an angle opposed to and somewhat steeper than the surface slope (by slightly more than 50%). A simple model based on this hypothesis yields the extent of over-ridden sediments as a function of sediment thickness and strength, a result that may be useful in guiding additional fieldwork for hypothesis testing. Sediment-floored as well as rock-floored over-deepenings are common features along glacier flow paths and are expected based on theories of glacier erosion, entrainment, transport and deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-141
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Glaciology
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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