Drumlin relief

Matteo Spagnolo, Chris D. Clark, Anna L.C. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drumlin relief is a key parameter for testing predictions of models of drumlin formation. Although this metric is commonly described in textbooks as being of the order of a few tens of metres, our critical review of the literature suggests an average value of about 13. m, but with much uncertainty. Here we investigate a large sample of drumlins (25,848) mapped from a high resolution digital terrain model of Britain, which allowed the identification of extremely shallow drumlins. Results indicate that most drumlins have a relief between 0.5 and 40. m (with a surprisingly low average value of only 7.1. m) a mode of 3.5-4. m, and with 41% of all drumlins characterized by a relief <. 5. m. Drumlin relief is found to never exceed 7% of the width and is positively correlated with this parameter, possibly indicating that drumlins need a large base to stand against the flow of the ice. Drumlin relief is also positively correlated with the length, which shows that drumlins do not grow in length by redistributing sediments from their summits to their downflow (lee) end, as previously hypothesised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-191
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • Drumlin relief
  • Drumlins
  • Glacial geomorphology
  • Morphometry


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