Sediments deposited in a lake at the front of a glacier in the Svartisen area, Norway, have been studied between 1957 and 1974. Until 1959, they were almost completely covered by an outwash plain (sandur), but subsequent erosion has exposed glacial lake sediments more than 70 m deep within a rock basin about 2·5 km long and 1 km wide. The basin was filled by sand and silt carried from beneath the glacier Austerdalsisen by two rivers, each of which deposited a delta in the lake. As the deltas advanced, laminated pro-delta silt was covered by crossbeds of fine sand and silt, and by near-horizontal sheets of fine sediments laid down between the delta-fronts and the distal end of the rock basin. Although both slumping and loading caused minor disturbance of sediments at the lake floor, deformation was of local significance only. Movement of a mass of sediment across the floor, probably triggered by a ‘seismic event’ related to movement of the glacier or to calving at the floating tongue, created a recumbent fold in laminated sand and silt, but transfer of sediment over the lake bed was rare once it had been deposited. Varves are not common at Austerdalsisen, indicating that water temperature, lake chemistry or variations of water and sediment discharge from the glacier were unfavourable for their formation; rhythmic deposition from density flows of sediments carried from beneath the glacier rarely occurred within the Austerdalsisen basin.