What are the main criteria for being a glacier?
Glaciers are giant bodies of ice, which can be found on every continent on Earth except Australia. However, not all ice can be counted as a glacier, nor does all snowfall form glaciers.
Answer and Explanation:
Glaciers are defined by the process by which they are created, their weight, and their movement.
- Process: Glacial ice is not created from freezing water. It is created from the recrystalization of snowflakes under immense pressure. Glaciers form when enough snowpack becomes so heavy that it compacts the snowflakes on the bottom, changing their molecular structure and turning them into glacial ice. Glaciers are defined by this metamorphic process.
- Glaciers must be heavy. While there is no exact weight used to define a glacier, the body of ice must be heavy enough to no longer resist the pull of gravity. Once a body of metamorphosed ice is heavy enough that gravity starts pulling it, it may be classified as a glacier.
- On a closely related note, glaciers are not static. They are flowing bodies of ice, propelled by the pull of gravity and the plastic flow of ice within the glacier itself.
To recap, blocks of ice may be classified as a glacier if they are composed of metamorphosed ice, are heavy enough to move with gravity, and are flowing.
Become a member and unlock all Study Answers
Try it risk-free for 30 days!Try it risk-free
Ask a question
Our experts can answer your tough homework and study questions.Ask a question Ask a question
Learn more about this topic:
from Earth Science 101: Earth ScienceChapter 16 / Lesson 2
Related to this Question
Explore our homework questions and answer library
Our tutors are standing by
Ask a study question and one of our experts will send you an answer within hours.
To ask a site support question, click here
Your question has been submitted!
When your answer is ready, it will appear on your Dashboard.