Debris-covered glaciers on Earth and Mars

image2_greg_crater_glacierPlanetary Geomorphology Image of the Month, June 30, 2016: David P. Mayer (University of Chicago).  Debris-covered glaciers are glaciers whose ablation zones are at least partially covered by supraglacial debris. On Earth, debris-covered glaciers are found in all major mountain glacier systems. The debris itself is primarily derived from rockfall above the accumulation zone. This material becomes entrained in the accumulating ice and is carried englacially before emerging in the ablation zone.

On Mars, numerous mid-latitude landforms have been interpreted as debris-covered glaciers based on their geomorphic similarity to nearby ice-rich landforms such as lobate debris aprons (LDA), as well as their similarity to terrestrial debris-covered alpine glaciers (Head et al., 2010 and refs. therein).

LDA extend up to ~15 km from rocky massifs and display convex up topographic profiles with steep termini, consistent with the expected profiles for flowing ice. Holt et al. (2008) used data collected by the subsurface sounding radar, SHARAD, onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify nearly pure buried ice deposits beneath several LDAs in the southern mid-latitudes of Mars. [More at link]

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