The formation of ice-cored moraines and push moraines is discussed in the light of glacier thermal regime and glacier dynamics. Data from two Svalbard valley glaciers, Erikbreen and Usherbreen are presented. On Erikbreen, fossil forms were investigated, while on Usherbreen a surge ending in 1985 caused the formation of new push-moraine ridges. The push moraines are considered as a soil-mechanical problem. In a theoretical discussion the stress transmitted by the glaciers to the proglacial sediments is estimated. On Usherbreen, the compressive flow results in deformation both in old front ridges and in undisturbed frozen sediment layers in the front sandur. Thus, folding, thrust faulting and overriding all occur. Deformation of proglacial sediments seems to be highly dependent on the mechanical properties of the sediments. The sediments are strongly influenced by permafrost conditions. The unfrozen water content in the sediments governs the deformability, which in turn is partly determined by pore-water salinity. The distribution of push moraines in Svalbard is therefore restricted to areas below the Holocene marine limit, and they occur most frequently in areas of sedimentary bedrock. This study concludes that push moraines and ice-cored moraines require permafrost conditions. Push-moraine ridges are not formed in direct contact with the glacier, so they are geomorphologically not moraines, but deformed permafrost sediments. A model for glacier debris sedimentation and deformation is outlined for Svalbard glaciers ending on land.