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Do subglacial bedforms comprise a size and shape continuum?

Ely, J.C.; Clark, C.D.; Spagnolo, M.; Stokes, C.R.; Greenwood, S.L.; Hughese, A.L.C.; Dunlopf, P.; Hessg, D.

Do subglacial bedforms comprise a size and shape continuum? Thumbnail


J.C. Ely

C.D. Clark

M. Spagnolo

S.L. Greenwood

A.L.C. Hughese

P. Dunlopf

D. Hessg


Understanding the evolution of the ice-bed interface is fundamentally important for gaining insight into the dynamics of ice masses and how subglacial landforms are created. However, the formation of the suite of landforms generated at this boundary — subglacial bedforms — is a contentious issue that is yet to be fully resolved. Bedforms formed in aeolian, fluvial, and marine environments either belong to separate morphological populations or are thought to represent a continuum of forms generated by the same governing processes. For subglacial bedforms, a size and shape continuum has been hypothesised, yet it has not been fully tested. Here we analyse the largest data set of subglacial bedform size and shape measurements ever collated (96,900 bedforms). Our results show that flutes form a distinct population of narrow bedforms. However, no clear distinction was found between drumlins and megascale glacial lineations (MSGLs), which form a continuum of subglacial lineations. A continuum of subglacial ribs also exists, with no clear size or shape distinctions indicating separate populations. Furthermore, an underreported class of bedform with no clear orientation to ice flow (quasi-circular bedforms) overlaps with the ribbed and lineation continua and typically occurs in spatial transition zones between the two, potentially merging these three bedform types into a larger continuum.


Ely, J., Clark, C., Spagnolo, M., Stokes, C., Greenwood, S., Hughese, A., …Hessg, D. (2016). Do subglacial bedforms comprise a size and shape continuum?. Geomorphology, 257, 108-119.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 5, 2016
Online Publication Date Jan 6, 2016
Publication Date Mar 15, 2016
Deposit Date Feb 11, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 12, 2016
Journal Geomorphology
Print ISSN 0169-555X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 257
Pages 108-119
Keywords Subglacial bedforms, Drumlins, Ribbed moraine, Flutes.


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