Sedimentary facies and landform genesis at a temperate outlet glacier: Soler Glacier, North Patagonian Icefield

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This paper focuses on the structural glaciology, dynamics, debris transport paths and sedimentology of the forefield of Soler Glacier, a temperate outlet glacier of the North Patagonian Icefield in southern Chile. The glacier is fed by an icefall from the icefield and by snow and ice avalanches from surrounding mountain slopes. The dominant structures in the glacier are ogives, crevasses and crevasse traces. Thrusts and recumbent folds are developed where the glacier encounters a reverse slope, elevating basal and englacial material to the ice surface. Other debris sources for the glacier include avalanche and rockfall material, some of which is ingested in marginal crevasses. Debris incorporated in the ice and on its surface controls both the distribution of sedimentary facies on the forefield and moraine ridge morphology. Lithofacies in moraine ridges on the glacier forefield include large isolated boulders, diamictons, gravel, sand and fine-grained facies. In relative abundance terms, the dominant lithofacies and their interpretation are sandy boulder gravel (ice-marginal), sandy gravel (glaciofluvial), angular gravel (supraglacial) and diamicton (basal glacial). Proglacial water bodies are currently developing between the receding glacier and its frontal and lateral moraines. The presence of folded sand and laminites in moraine ridges in front of the glacier suggests that, during a previous advance, Soler Glacier over-rode a former proglacial lake, reworking lacustrine deposits. Post-depositional modification of the landform/sediment assemblage includes melting of the ice-core beneath the sediment cover, redistribution of finer material across the proglacial area by aeolian processes and fluvial reworking. Overall, the preservation potential of this landform/sediment assemblage is high on the centennial to millennial timescale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-64
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2002


  • Debris transport
  • glacial sediments
  • North Patagonian Icefield
  • outlet glaciers
  • structural glaciology


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