glacial erratics

glacial stratigraphy


glacial lakes


kame terraces

outwash terraces

A large kettle hole near Dorback Lodge, developed in thick meltwater deposits and set within a series of moraine ridges

Lochan Deo: a small kettle hole. The lochan lies within an area of eskers, kames and meltwater channels. The dimensions of the lochan suggest that a 100 x 50 x 5 m ice block was buried by sand and gravel as the last ice sheet retreated from Glenmore.

Right - A simple model of kettle hole formation, with the slow melt-out of buried blocks of glacier ice

Kettle Hole

Definition: a hollow created when buried blocks of glacier ice melt out. The name derives from an old meaning of 'kettle', as in a deep iron basin for heating water over a fire. A 'kettle drum' has a similar derivation.

A kettle hole is formed by blocks of ice that are separated from the main glacier - perhaps the ice front stagnated or retreated or perhaps ice blocks were washed out from the glacier during a glacier flood or jökulhaup. If conditions are right, the isolated blocks of ice then become partially or wholly buried in outwash. When the ice blocks eventually melt they leave behind holes or depressions that fill with water to become kettle hole lakes. In freshly deglaciated areas, such as along the south coast of Iceland, kettles form obvious small lakes in the outwash plains. In Scotland, they may be preserved as isolated small lakes, or deep water-filled depressions in boggy areas that were once the low-lying outwash plains. Many kettles have been infilled with sediments, especially peat, during the Holocene.