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ABSTRACT The local climatic regime and the mass balance state are important determinants of the dynamics of terrestrial and marine glacier fronts, which in turn determine the sediments and landforms produced at the glacier front. Many modern glaciers undergoing overall retreat in areas of‘maritime’climate produce winter push moraines during a late winter readvance, followed by a summer retreat, whilst in more‘continental’regions no significant winter readvance occurs and annual push-moraines are absent. The frontal dynamics which lead to these changes are analysed and the form, structure, sequence and field relations of both terrestrial and marine push-moraines are described from Iceland, Spitsbergen and Baffin Island.

Long-term changes in mass balance leading to major glacier advances or readvances also generate large push-moraines. In terrestrial environments push-moraine formation is accompanied by uplift, rejuvenation and down-cutting of outwash systems whose sediments become closely associated with glaciotectonic structures, which permit pre-, syn- and post-tectonic sequences to be identified.

The development of ice marginal fan/moraine complexes is modelled as a function of the relative magnitude of two parameters: the velocity of ice movement and the calving rate. A high ice velocity just exceeded by the calving rate gives closely spaced push-moraines and confluent ice marginal fans. A high velocity far exceeded by the calving rate produces closely spaced moraines but separate ice marginal fans. A low ice velocity in combination with a high calving rate results in well separated and feebly developed push-moraines, while a low ice velocity and a low calving rate produces feeble push-moraines and coalescent fans.