Ice Flow

The ice flow of a glacier is divided into two types, internal deformation and basal sliding. Internal deformation is movement of parts of the glacier relative to itself. Throughout the descent of the glacier, the ice at the sides and bottom side of the glacier are subject to more friction from the valley floor and walls, and therefore forced to move at a slower rate than the ice in the centre of the glacier. As a result the ice deforms within itself. Basal sliding occurs as water, either rain or melt passes underneath the glacier and acts as a lubricant between the ice and the bedrock. This is the main source of terminal velocity of temperate glaciers.

The bottom layers of the glacier flow deform plastically under the pressure allowing the glacier as a whole to slide down the valley like a huge toffee. It is the upper layer of around 30metres where the glacier is more brittle, therefore the ice here cracks and breaks into crevasses and seracs in order to bend over uneven bedrock.

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