GEOL*2150 (with laboratory): GEOL*2160

Prerequisite: GEOL*1000 or equivalent


1. Logistics, marking scheme

2. Study plan

3. List of lectures/seminars


1. Logistics, marking scheme


Objectives of Course: The course is designed to make the student think about and gather a basic understanding of glacial and other cold climate processes, the formation of glacial landscape and materials and landuse practices.

            At the end of the course the student should be able to:

1. Understand the properties of snow, the importance of the snow pack and the value of snow as a resource and a hazard.

2. Understand the relationship between normal ice and the behaviour of glaciers.

3. Become familiar with the work done by glaciers, the landscape and sediments they generate, and the landuse practices in Southern Ontario.


Textbook: Martini, I. P., M. E. Brookfield, S. Sadura, 2001, Principles of Glacial Geomorphology and Geology, Prentice Hall. (The course follows closely follow this textbook).


Method evaluation: At discretion of class, to be decided during first week of lectures. A final examination will be required.     


Is the final exam optional? No




                                                                           GEOL*2150                            GEOL*2160


1.         Final Examination                                              35                                            45

2.         Lab Reports ‑ 10% each                                  40                                           

3.         Seminar + Handout or Report                            -                                              25

4.         Mid‑term                                                          25                                            30       



2. Study plan




            Nowadays everyone is or should be concerned about the environment and the effect man has on it and visa-versa. Increasing population creates (a) needs in terms of exploitation of natural resources, such as the extraction of sand and gravel, surveying for mineral ores, and (b) problems of contamination through waste disposal and soil, water and air contamination. At the same time, natural phenomena such as flooding and sea level rise constitute increasing hazards for humans. Particularly in high latitude and high altitude areas, people need to understand the processes that created those landscapes and the properties of the sediments they contain. This means understanding cold climate processes, principal among them, the glacial environment and frozen ground. To achieve this understanding the subject matter of this course is divided into three major parts: glaciology, glacial geomorphology and glacial geology.


            Glaciology is the study of the glacier; that is, the major tool that brought about the major changes to the Earth's surface during the Quaternary and some ancient times. To understand this tool we must first understand its component parts, therefore we need to analyse the ice that composes the glacier. Ice is a mineral with a simple composition (H2O) that forms from freezing water (congelation ice). When falling as snow on the ground it generates sediment accumulations, often with aeolian characteristics (snow drifts), and through changes (diagenesis and metamorphism) it generates the ice-rock (metamorphic ice) in areas above the snowline. An accumulation of snow and metamorphic ice forms a glacier if the accumulation is thick enough and acquires the ability to move under its own weight. Several types of glaciers exist which not only look, but behave differently. The movement of glaciers, for instance is a complex process, but not too dissimilar from a mud or debris flow where the matrix is ice. In fact some modelling of glacier movement may be done by using a suitable pseudoplastic, water and Plaster of Paris. In cold climate areas, snow is a resource as it provides moisture for crops and is used for winter sports.


            Glacial geomorphology is the study of landforms and sediments of areas presently or formerly occupied by a glacier, and adjacent periglacial zones directly or indirectly affected by the glacier. In its essence, glacial geomorphology analyses the processes and products of the interaction between the glacier and the substratum. The landforms and sediments are variously used depending on the climate of the area, proximity to urban centres and technological requirements.


            Glacial geology is the study of the sediments formed directly or indirectly by the glaciers. This includes the study not only of the lithology, texture, shape, sedimentary structures and architecture of such deposits, but also their physical and temporal distribution; that is, their stratigraphy. Emphasis will be placed on the study of pPleistocene deposits, but some analysis will also be made of glacigenic rocks formed in ancient times, such as during the Permian--Carboniferous, Devonian, Ordovician, and Precambrian.




MAJOR           WEEK LECT.                                                                                                 LABS


                        0.         1.         Introduction


INTRO            1.         2.         Introduction; Film glaciation (11 min.)                                        studies and

                                    3.         General comment on glaciation                                                  experiments

                                    4.         Ice as a mineral and crystal                                                       on snow or ice


G                     2.         5.         Physical properties of ice

L                                  6.         Ice as a rock; impurities and properties                                                 "

A                                 7.         Metamorphism of snow

C  ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑------------------

I                       3.         8.         Metamorphism of snow; (Film secrets of the ice

A                                 9.         Classification of glaciers                                                                        "

T                                  10.       Classification of glaciers

I  ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑----------------

O                     4.         11.       Movement of glaciers: mechanisms                                            studies and

N                                 12.       Movement of glaciers                                                                experiments

                                    13.       Movement of glaciers, theories                                                  on ice or snow ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑-------           

G                     5.         14.       Movement of glaciers, theory, crevasses

L                                  15.       MID-TERM TEST Film valley glaciers                                                                               "

A                                 16.       Film valley glaciersMID-TERM TEST (Fri. Feb. 8, in class)

C  -‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑---------

I                       6.         17.       Erosional power of a glacier                                                                  "          

A                                 18.       Erosional features: small scale

L                                  19.       Erosional features: large scale


G                     7.    SEMESTER BREAK

E  ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑----------

O                     8.         20.       Sediment transport; mechanisms                                                experiments

M                                 21.       Till-diamict                                                                               on frozen

O                                 22.       Drumlins                                                                                   ground

R ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑----------

P                      9.         23.       Moraines

H                                 24.       Ice contact stratified drift                                                                       "

O                                 25.       Glaciofluvial deposits

                        Sat. March 16, field trip: Scarb. and Bowmanville (GEOL*2150/2160)

L  ---‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑----

O                     10.       26.       Glaciomarine deposits

G                                 27.       Glaciolacustrine deposits                                                                       "

Y                                 28.       Aeolian deposits: sand and loess


                        11.       29.       Permafrost definition and general concepts                                sediments

                                    30.       Permafrost features                                                                   and field

                                    31.       Holiday                                                                                    trips                 



G  G                     12.       32.       Permafrost

  L  E                                  33.       Principles of Pleistocene stratigraphy; dating                                          "

  A  O                                 34.       Glaciations in geological history: Causes and effects


  I   O  ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑---------------

  A  G                     13.       35.       Sea level changes

  L  Y                                 36.       Origin of the Great Lakes                                                                      "

                                    37.       Review




Optional airborne fieldtrip: Guelph-Hamilton-Milton-Rockwood-Guelph

            Plane - Cessna 182 4 seater (carries 3 students + pilot)

            Duration - Approx. 1 Hour

            Cost - Approx. $2025.00



NOTE ON SEMINAR (For GEOL*2160 students)


1.         Two students should choose the same or similar topic.


2.         Several topics will be suggested. However you may choose your own topic. Read a few selected papers and write a short abstract (1 page write-up + 1 page of figures).


3.         Prepare and try your presentation together with your friend: you will integrate the two seminars.


4.         Present your seminar in exactly 15 minutes. You will have 5‑10 minutes for questions. Your friend will follow with the same procedure. Thus two seminars will be scheduled for one lecture period.


5.         Your seminar Choose your topic now. You will be scheduled to fit the program of the course.




For the first part of the Glacial Geology Course and for first two laboratories

            Ref:  Shumskii, P.A., 1964, Principles of Structural Glaciology.



pp 230‑239; 259‑262; 276‑284 ‑ Snow cover and firnification

pp 384‑391 -  A classification: we shall not use it but it contains much useful descriptive information

Keeler, C.M. and W.F. Weeks, 1968. Investigations into the mechanical properties of alpine snow‑packs: Journal of Glaciology, v. 7, p. 253‑271.



pp 103‑134; 134‑137; 144‑145 ‑ Methods of Study (Exclude optical   methods), determination of air permeability and determination of  amount of water impurities.

pp 178‑179; 205‑216 ‑ Cryopedology

pp 95‑100; 101‑102    ‑ Effect of impurities on properties of ice


6. Reports will analyze a selected topic from the book by Hambrey and expand upon that information by using recent papers from the 1990's.




I           GLACIOLOGY

            Snow cover ‑ Nivation ‑ congelation ice formation ‑ current research trends in Glaciology ‑ aspects of polar research ‑ how a glacier works ‑ regimen of Alaskan glaciers ‑ examples and mechanisms of glacial surges ‑ effects of marine (or fluviatile) ice on sediments ‑ the glaciers and climate - avalanches - glacier hazards - snow removal issues - skiing on snow.



            Mechanisms of glacial erosion ‑ large scale erosional features small scale erosional features ‑ how drumlins are formed ‑ examples and mechanisms of formation of selected moraines ‑ flow till ‑ the prairie mounds ‑ the geology of glacial clays ‑ how to recognize pre Pleistocene eskers ‑ Loess ‑ till fabric - glaciomarine environments and sediments - glaciolacustrine sediments 



            Pluvial lakes ‑ selected aspects of permafrost (e.g. wedges, patterned grounds, pingos, response of permafrost to human activities) ‑ general principles in cryopedology ‑ effect of frozen ground on plant growth - movement of groundwater in permafrost areas - palsas.



            The Pleistocene geology of selected areas in Canada and U.S.A.‑ Pre‑Pleistocene glaciations ‑ principles of Pleistocene stratigraphy - how to date the past ‑ paleopedology ‑ phytogeography ‑ the driftless areas ‑ aspects of archaeology ‑ prospecting on Pleistocene terrains - Paleoclimate - Glacial landforms, sediments and landuse.






            Journal of Glaciology

            Quaternary Research

            Quaternary Science Review


            Géograhie physique et Quaternaire





Andersen,B.G. & Borns H.W. Jr., 1994. The ice age world. Scandinavian University Press, Oslo. 208 pp.


Benn, D.I., and Evans, D.J.A., 1998. Glaciers & Glaciation. Arnold, London. 734 pp. (Very good to start a research project).


Bennett M.R. and Glasser, N.F., 1996. Glacial Geology. Ice Sheets and Landforms. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, 364 pp.


Davis, T. Neil, 2001. Permafrost: a guide to frozen ground in transition. University of Alaska Press, 351 pp. 


Dawson, A. G., 1992. Ice Age Earth: Late Quaternary Geology and Climate. Routledge, London.


Drewry, D., 1986. Glacial Geologic Processes. E. Arnold London, 276 pp.


Embleton, C. & C.A.M. King, 1968, Glacial and Periglacial Geomorphology, E. Arnold Ltd., 608p.


Embleton, C., and C.A.M. King, 1975, Glacial Geomorphology. E. Arnold.


Embleton, C., and C.A.M. King, 1975, Periglacial Geomorphology. E. Arnold.


Flint, R.F., 1957 (& 1971), Glacial and Pleistocene Geology, J. Wiley and Sons, 553 p.


Gray, D.M., 1981. Handbook of Snow: Principles, Processes, Use. Pergamon Press, Toronto, 776pp.


Hambrey, Michael, 1994, Glacial Environments, UCB Press, Vancouver, 296pp.


Lachappelle, E., 1983. Field Guide to Snow Crystals. Univ. of Washington Press.


Menzies, J. (ed.), 1995. Modern glacial environments. Butterworth‑Heineman Ltd. Oxford, 619 pp. (Collections of very good, up-to-date papers: a must read for senior people and a starting point for project search).


Menzies, J. (ed.), 1996. Past glacial environments. Butterworth‑Heineman Ltd. Oxford, 598 pp. (Collections of very good, up-to-date papers: a must read for senior people and a starting point for project search).


Menzies J. 2001. Modern and Past Glacial Environments. This one is not in the library yet but it should be coming soon.


Paterson, W.S.B., 1969, The Physics of Glaciers, Pergamon Press, 250 p. (It is not simple, but if you skip some of the math it is a useful book)


Post, A. and Lachappelle E., 1971. Glacier Ice. University of Toronto Press, 110pp.


Pounder, E.R., 1965, Physics of Ice, Pergamon Press, 151 p. (Simple book, useful if you are interested in sea ice cover)


Shumskii, P.A., 1964, Principles of Structural Glaciology, Dover Publications Inc., N.Y., 497 p. (It is worthwhile having)


Sharp, R.P., 1988, Living Ice, Cambridge University Press. (A good general textbook)


Sugden, J.E., 1976. Glaciers and Landscape. E. Arnold, London, 376 pp.


Tufnell, L., 1984. Glacier Hazards. Longman, London, 97 pp.