Thermal Erosion

Thermal erosion occurs where flowing water melts ground ice by the combined effects of heat conduction and convection, and then mechanically erodes newly released sediment. It often occurs on hillslopes during periods of snowmelt or

Fig. 13.2 Frozen badlands formed by intense thermal erosion of massive icy sediments exposed within a retrogressive thaw slump, Summer Island, Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands, Canada. Relief is ~1 m between interfluves and gullies

heavy rainfall, and can lead to rapid gully development and persistent slope instability, particularly along ice wedges (Fig. 13.1; Mackay 1974, 1988; Seppala 1997). In thaw slumps (see Sect. 13.4.3), intense thermal erosion during hot summer days can lead to intense dissection of massive icy sediments, producing a remarkable frozen badlands topography (Fig. 13.2).

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