The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 41 Number 1: 11-14 - January 1979

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Origin of Glacier Caves in the Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru
Lonnie G. Thompson and Garry D. McKenzie


The 5645 m-high Quelccaya Ice Cap of the Cordillera Oriental contains both obstruction- and crevasse-type glacier caves in several outlet glaciers. Reconnaissance observations on the obstruction caves, produced by deformation of ice around obstructions in the bed of the glacier, indicate that two distinct forms occur: (1) single passages parallel to the ice-flow direction with a bedrock protuberance or boulder at the head, and (2) single passages perpendicular to ice flow and formed in the lee of bedrock ledges. The crevasse-type caves form from crevasse-wall collapse and roofing by snow and firn; they may occur at all angles to glacier flow. Speleothems observed in the caves include stalactities, stalagmites, columns, and cave coral; cave ceilings are usually fluted or striated.

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