Measurements have been made on Austerdalsbreen, Norway, to test the theory that wave ogives at the foot of an ice fall are formed by pressure. The pattern of deformation over the first three waves from the Odinsbre ice fall was studied by measuring the absolute and relative motions of 35 stakes during August 1956. There are large variations of longitudinal compression through the wave pattern, but no simple correlation exists between the compression and the crests; nor are the crests consistently rising with respect to the average surface. We conclude that the waves are not forming by pressure in this area. A detailed quantitative explanation of the observed pattern of deformation is found by improving the existing theory of glacier flow. The deformations taking place are explained as essentially independent of the presence of the waves; they are primarily due (a) to the compression that must occur in the ice as its slope decreases and it becomes thicker, and (b) to the bending and unbending to which the ice is subjected as it passes over a bed of changing curvature. Additional contributions to the deformation arise from the widening of the glacier channel, which is important at the immediate foot of the ice fall, and from the annual ablation.
The theory explains quantitatively the rotation and bending of the tunnel excavated in 1955; it was also used to make a prediction, which was successfully verified in a further experiment on the glacier in July and August 1957.
A pressure mechanism of wave formation can be reconciled with the observations if it is supposed that the compression in the lower two-thirds of the ice fall, which was measured photogrammetrically in August 1956, varies significantly with the seasons. However, the positions and amplitudes of the observed waves are fully accounted for by the combined plastic deformation and ablation mechanism recently described in another paper. There is therefore no longer any need for the pressure hypothesis as a primary cause of the waves.