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Theory of glacial erosion, transport and deposition as a consequence of subglacial sediment deformation

  • G.S. Boulton (a1)


A theory of erosion, transport and deposition of unlithified sediments by glaciers is presented. It predicts the large-scale areal distribution of zones and rates of erosion and deposition in time and space through a complete glacial cycle, together with the resultant intensity of large-scale lineations (drumlins) which will be incised in the landscape. The theory also predicts the dispersal patterns of subglacial lithologies, together with the form of dispersal trains derived from distinctive sources and the vertical and horizontal distribution of lithologies within a till. It predicts major erosional discontinuities within tills and the formation of boulder pavements. It suggests that the dominant proportion of the lowland tills produced by Pleistocene mid-latitude ice sheets was generated by subglacial deformation and explains why they are predominantly fine-grained.

The theory is based on an analysis of glacier-dynamic processes and therefore can be used to infer the dynamic behaviour of former ice sheets from the distribution of tills and their lithologic composition.

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