strand crack

a fissure at the junction between an inland ice sheet, ice piedmont or ice rise and an ice shelf, the latter being subject to the rise and fall of the tide.

splay crevasse

a crevasse pattern that forms where ice slowly spreads out sideways; commonly found near a glacier terminus.

snowdrift glacier

a semipermanent mass of firn formed by drifted snow behind obstructions or in the ground; also called a catchment glacier or a drift glacier.

snow worm

an oligochaete worm that lives on temperate glaciers or perennial snow; there are several species that range in color from yellowish-brown to reddish-brown or black; they are usually less than 1 millimeter (0.04 inch) in diameter and average about 3 millimeters (0.1 inch) in length; some feed off red algae.

slush zone

common near the snow line on a relatively flat portion of a glacier where melting snow forms slush.


a mixture of snow and grease ice.


the bonding together of ice crystals.


an isolated block of ice that is formed where the glacier surface is fractured.

rock glacier

looks like a mountain glacier and has active flow; usually includes a poorly sorted mess of rocks and fine material; may include: (1) interstitial ice a meter or so below the surface (“ice-cemented”), (2) a buried core of ice (“ice-cored”), and/or (3) rock debris from avalanching snow and rock.

Frying Pan Glacier, Colorado, is almost entirely covered by rocks and debris in this photograph from 1966. (Photo courtesy of George L. Snyder, archived at the World Data Center for Glaciology, Boulder, CO.)

sedimentary ogives

alternating bands of light and dark at the firn limit of a glacier; the light bands are usually young and lightest at the highest level up-glacier, becoming increasingly older and darker as they progress down-glacier.


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