Tectonic stress feedback loop explains U-shaped glacial valleys

Authors


Abstract

In the shadow of the Matterhorn, the broad form of the Matter Valley—like so many throughout the Alps—is interrupted by a deep U-shaped glacial trough. Carved into a landscape reflecting millennia of tectonic uplift and river erosion, growing evidence suggests the 100-meter-deep U-shaped groove was produced shortly after a shift toward major cycles of Alpine glaciation almost a million years ago. Subsequent glaciations may have therefore had little effect on the landscape.