Glacial Valley, Scotland

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Scotland was entirely covered by ice during the Ice Age and this remote valley shows the typical U-shape of a glacial valley. In the distance, a rocky knob protrudes from the valley floor. Such knobs are common in glaciated areas and they tend to be asymmetrical, with a smooth upstream side and a rugged downstream side. The reason is that the ice pushes cracks shut on the upstream side, rides over the rock and smooths it off. On the downstream side the glacier plucks blocks away and leaves a rough, steep rock face. These knobs have a variety of names. They are often called whalebacks from their shape, or roches moutonnees (French for "sheep rock" because clusters of small ones can look like sheep in a pasture.

The distant high peak just peeping over the skyline on the far left center of the picture is Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles. At 1,344 metres (4,406 ft), Ben Nevis is just a bit below the elevation needed to have permanent snow in the climate of Scotland, though patches of snow often persist from one year to the next. Ben Nevis is located at 56o 49' 49" N, 005o 00' 17" W.

The location of the rocky knob in the valley is 56o 47' 55" N, 005o 23' 03" W.

Original Scene

(author's image)

Possible Coloring

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Created 05 February 2008, Last Update 15 January 2020