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moraine

moraine (mərānˈ) [key], a formation composed of unsorted and unbedded rock and soil debris called till, which was deposited by a glacier. The till that falls on the sides of a valley glacier from the bounding cliffs makes up lateral moraines, running parallel to the valley sides. When two or more valley glaciers unite, their lateral moraines form a medial moraine, running down the center of the glacier. When two or more lobes of a continental ice sheet unite, the debris carried by each lobe intermingles, forming an interlobate moraine. When the climate of a region becomes warmer, glaciers will start receding. The debris deposited by a melting glacier is called a ground moraine. The debris left at the edge of the glacier's extreme forward movement is a terminal moraine. Similar moraines deposited during a temporary halt in the retreat of glacial ice are called recessional moraines. After the retreat of a glacier the moraines remain as prominent features of the topography. The margins of the great ice sheets of the Pleistocene epoch are marked by terminal moraines stretching across North America and Europe. See drift.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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