Lateral and Medial Moraines

  Jan 24, 2024

Lateral and Medial Moraines

Lateral Moraines:

Imagine a glacier like a giant conveyor belt moving rocks and debris. As the glacier moves and eventually starts to melt, it leaves behind piles of these rocks and debris along its sides. These piles are known as lateral moraines.
They form only in areas where the glacier is melting faster than it's gaining ice and snow each year. This makes them like markers showing where the glacier used to be, particularly indicating the balance point between the glacier growing and melting areas. These piles can last a long time, even after the glacier has retreated, and sometimes they connect with the piles at the glacier’s end.

Medial Moraines:

Now, think of medial moraines as the merging point of two glaciers. When two glaciers come together, the debris and rocks that each carries along their sides get combined and form a line of debris in the middle of the larger, joined glacier. This line is the medial moraine. It's mostly made up of rock that has fallen from the sides of the valley where the glaciers merge. Unlike lateral moraines, medial moraines are more like a surface feature on the glacier and don't last long after the glacier melts away.

In simple terms, lateral moraines are the debris left at the sides of a melting glacier, while medial moraines are the lines of debris formed where two glaciers meet and merge.


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