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Glacial Physiography

The Great Ice Age (or Pleistocene epoch about 8,000 to 1.8 million years ago ) resulted in glacially formed landforms (glacial physiography).   Many such landforms are located in New England and Massachusetts where we at Geologic Resources are located.   We have taken pictures of some photogenic features in our vicinity and present them here.   Following are some Ice Age landforms (with definitions from Wikipedia).

  • Terminal moraine -  is a moraine that forms at the end of a glacier.   We now know thCave Manat terminal moraines are created at the edge of the greatest extent of the glacier. At this point, the debris that has been pushed by the front edge of the ice is driven no farther, but instead is dumped in a heap. Because the glacier acts very much like a conveyor belt, the longer it stays in one place, the greater the amount of material that will be deposited. The moraine is left as the marking point of the terminal extent of the ice.

  • Esker - Eskers are long, winding ridges of stratified sand and gravel which occur in glaciated and formerly glaciated regions of Europe and North America. They are frequently several miles in length and, because of their peculiar uniform shape, somewhat resemble railroad embankments.

  • Drumlin - A drumlin is an elongated whale-shaped hill formed by glacial action. Its long axis is parallel with the movement of the ice, with the blunter end facing into the glacial movement.

  • Erratic - A glacial erratic is a piece of rock carried by glacial ice some distance from the rock outcrop from which it came. Erratics can range in size from pebbles to massive pieces.   They can be found miles away from their original location.

 
    Geologic Resources:  Satellite Image of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
Satellite Image of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA and a portion of Massachusetts adjacent to the cape.   Cape Cod is composed of a terminal glacial moraine that is underlain by older coastal plain deposits.   These deposits are both weak and unconsolidated and have been reshaped by coastal erosion and deposition to form the present physiography.   Photo provided by NASA and taken from  Satellite.   NASA Visible Earth:  http://visibleearth.nasa.gov


Esker - On the crest of an esker, Hadwen Park, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.   The esker is what remains of a Pleistocene (Ice Age) stream.   These features formed on, in, or under the last Pleistocene ice sheet when it covered what is now the City of Worcester.   The esker probably formed when the ice melted during the period that the ice sheet retreated northward.   This esker is approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) long.   They are generally composed of sand, gravel, boulders, and cobbles deposited from moving water.  
Photo by Flo Bruehl, November 21, 2006.

Massachusetts Statehouse, Boston, MA, USA
Beacon Hill, a drumlin in Boston, Massachusetts, USA is occupied by the Massachusetts capital building near its crest.    The City of Boston and vicinity contain many drumlins and other glacial features, remnants of the Wisconsin continental ice sheet during the Great Ice Age (or Pleistocene Era).   Photo by Flo Bruehl, June 24, 2007.

Bunker Hill Monunent, Charlestown, MA, USA
Bunker Hill, a drumlin in Charlestown, Massachusetts, USA is occupied by the Bunker Hill Monument and Bunker Hill National Historic Park on its crest.    The vicinity contains many drumlins and other glacial features, remnants of the Wisconsin continental ice sheet during the Great Ice Age (or Pleistocene Era).   Photo by Flo Bruehl, June 24, 2007.
 

 
   
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