Though individual glaciers range in size and shape, they have similar pieces that unite them in their complexity. They are products of nature and physics that provide integral resources to their ecosystems. Click through the diagram to dive deeper into their composition and lifecycle.

Horn:

An iconic mark of a landscape formed by glaciers, horns are mountainous tips where three or more aretes have been eroded leaving a four sided peak.

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Accumulation Zone:

Glacial ice if created by layer after layer of snow interlocking and compressing. The zone where this occurs in known as the accumulation zone.

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Moraine:

Forming in piles around the glacier, moraines are made up of the rock ground up in the battle between the bedrock and ice that doesn’t get carried away in the meltwater stream.

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Arete:

A thin crest of rock left after two adjacent glaciers recede.

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Firn Line:

Like a mark on a timeline, the firn is a marker showing where the melting stops, and where accumulation begins.

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Ablasion:

The ablation zone is the where the glacier melts and releases water into a kettle lake or meltwater stream.

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Glacier:

A force of nature so powerful it can shape mountains, carve valleys or even be its own continent, a glacier is the result of layers of snow interlocking into ice.

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Kettle Lake:

A kettle lake is the result of ice that has been frozen for thousands of years in a glacier melting. As a body of water, it is shallow and filled with sediment gathered as a result of the friction between ice over rock.

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Meltwater Stream:

A seasonal cascade of water that results from glacial melting. Water moves through, under and out of the glacier to carve new streams and deposits silt, creating new land.

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Abrasion:

Abrasion occurs as a glacier melts and slides downhill. Its movement causes a grinding on the rock below cutting deeper into the landscape as it strokes downhill.

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Plucking:

Another avenue of transformation, plucking occurs when water seeps into the bedrock, freezes and adds another piece of land to its glacial mass.

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Advancement:

When winter returns, glaciers freeze the remaining meltwater trapping it back inside adding to its powerful mass.

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Erratics:

A stranger to its surroundings, an erratic is a rock that has been displaced from its place of origin. Ranging in size from pebbles to boulders, these rocks were carried by the power of the glacier moving downhill as the ice expanded, and being stranded as it receded.

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Brittle:

The upper portion of the glacier, the brittle zone is porous and less dense than the area below. It may crack and break into crevasses, but the pressure from its mass is essential to the functionality of the plastic zone.

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Plastic Zone:

The plastic zone is what keeps the glacier moving. Constant melting and freezing allows a glacier to continue its downhill dance with gravity.

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Bed Rock:

Where ice meets the earth, bedrock is our planet’s most outward layer that is slowly stripped away and carried downstream to serve its new purpose in the delta.

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Meltwater Stream:

A seasonal cascade of water that results from glacial melting. Water moves through, under and out of the glacier to carve new streams and deposits silt, creating new land.

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Snow:

Snow is the lifeforce of glaciers, the substance that keeps them alive. Its slow and steady fall forms layer after layer that interlock into ice.

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Firn:

Like a mark on a timeline, the firn is a marker showing where the melting stops, and where accumulation begins.

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Refreezing:

Refreezing is what gives glaciers their ability to create. As the ice melts and refreezes, it gets more tightly packed increasing its mass and allowing it to win the battle with the bedrock below.

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Foliation:

The striations in the ice that give us reference to where the ice is in its process.

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Braided River:

A river that weaves in and out of itself providing an essential ecosystem for many species.

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Outwash Plain:

The result of the long years of the glacial process, an outwash plain is where sediment is deposited to form land.

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Delta:

Deltas form where rivers end and ocean begins. They are biological hotspots where sediment breaks away from its watery partner to form new land.

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Meltwater Stream:

A seasonal cascade of water that results from glacial melting. Water moves through, under and out of the glacier to carve new streams and deposits silt, creating new land.

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