Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

2015 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Hargitai, Ákos Kereszturi

Crevasse (Glacier)

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3134-3_89


“Crevasse” describes an open fracture or fissure, visible on the surface of a glacier, which has opened in response to local strain within the respective ice mass. Crevasses form where this strain has exceeded a critical tensional strength threshold (Vaughan 1993), effectively pulling a glacier apart.


A type of ice deformation feature.


(On a glacier) Fracture; Brittle failure;  Fissure; Rift

Description and Subtypes

Crevasses appear as obvious rifts in the surface of a glacier. They can vary tremendously in size, ranging from narrow clefts which could easily be crossed on foot to large rifts many meters across. These can occur singly or, more commonly, in groups. Spatially extensive “crevasse fields” often characterize large areas of a glacier’s surface, variations in the pattern of these crevasse fields generally falling into one of only a small number of repeated patterns:
  1. (1)

    Transverse linear crevassesoccur most commonly where glacier ice undergoes...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geography and Earth SciencesAberystwyth UniversityAberystwythUK