Q:

How are valley glaciers and continental glaciers different?

A:

Valley and continental glaciers differ mainly in area, thickness and speed of movement. The differences arise due to their location and relationship with underlying topography.

Know More

Full Answer

The primary difference between the two types of glaciers is size. Continental glaciers cover large swaths of land and extend over 50,000 km, meanwhile valley glaciers are confined to mountains and don't exceed lengths of 100 km. Continental glaciers are also far thicker, they bury the land in up to thousands of meters of ice, completely transforming the landscape. Valley glaciers, however, can be viewed as rivers of ice, far thinner with numerous tributary glaciers that join to form the main glacier.

In addition, continental glaciers usually move very little. Valley glaciers, on the other hand, have movement at the center, melting ice at the base lubricates their paths. The faster speeds of valley glaciers can be attributed to gradient, gravity works on the ice in the steep mountains while continental glaciers' velocities are almost solely reliant on friction. The nature of the two glacier types also means that they look very different where they terminate. Continental ice sheets break off at the end of continents and calve icebergs into the ocean, while valley glaciers melt and form river networks.

Learn more in Earth Science

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the two main types of glaciers?

    A:

    The two main types of glaciers are continental glaciers and alpine glaciers. Continental glaciers are also known as ice sheets because their form and flow are not significantly affected by underlying geographic formations. Alpine glaciers form on mountains and flow down mountain valleys.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do glaciers cause erosion?

    A:

    Glaciers erode the land in three primary ways: plucking, abrasion and freeze-thaw. All three manners of erosion combine to make glaciers one of the world’s most powerful agents of erosion.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do glaciers change the land they cross?

    A:

    Glaciated valleys and fjords are probably the most common results of glacial movement. Glacial erosion causes a number of notable geographical features that are normally unique, because of the enormous friction caused by the glaciers and the rocks and sediment from other places that glaciers bring along with them.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What latitudes are most likely to see glaciers?

    A:

    Nearly 99 percent of the glacial ice on Earth is found in its polar regions, north of 35 degrees North latitude and south of 35 degrees South latitude. However, glaciers can be found in some form on every continent except for Australia.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore