Medial moraines and lineations on the surface of composite glaciers enable the detection of structural and hydrological features. A study of the composite glacier Breidamerkurjökull, south Iceland, indicates relationships between subglacial waterways, ice structure in the junction area, and development of the glacier terminus. First, rivers are situated in or near medial moraines because melt water percolates to the bed and moves from there with the subglacial rivers mainly in the direction of ice flow. Secondly, the contact between two feeder glaciers sometimes forms an angle at the glacier terminus. Then the meltwater river escaping from the contact, generally in a radial direction (away from the glacier front), during the retreat will be transferred to the front of the first receding glacier. The drainage of the contact zone then changes from a radial to a tangential direction, destroying the terminal moraines of the recession stages.
Similar relations are found in relics of Pleistocene ice sheets, two examples of which are compared. The huge subglacial channel of the Münsterländer Kiessandzug-Esker below the ice sheet of the Saalian glaciation in the Münsterland, north-west Germany, was formed in the ice-flow direction. It therefore gives details of the morphology and of the great ice-dammed lake east of the Teutoburger Wald ridge. At the contact between the Norwegian and Baltic Sea glaciers, the terminus formed an angle during the maximum extent of the Weichselian glaciation in northern Jutland. During retreat, the Norwegian glacier receded first. The large melt-water river escaping from the contact between both glaciers had formed the huge Karup Sandur during the maximum, but now, during the recession, it changed to the front of the Norwegian ice, destroying the recession moraines there.