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Definition: hanging valley from Philip's Encyclopedia

Valley that ends high up the face of a larger valley, possibly with a stream running through it and ending in a waterfall. Most hanging valleys result from glacial deepening of the main valley. See also glacier

Summary Article: hanging valley
from The Dictionary of Physical Geography

A tributary valley whose floor is discordant with the floor of the main valley. Hanging valleys are a hallmark of glacial erosion in mountains. The discordance of the valley floors was one of the arguments used in the early nineteenth century to suggest that rivers did not cut valleys, and the objection was only removed when the role of glacier activity was appreciated. The valley cross-sections were adjusted to the glaciers they held, and it is likely that the glacier surfaces met concordantly (Penck, 1905).

  • Penck, A. (1905)Glacial features in the surface of the Alps. Journal of Geology, 13, 1-17.
  • David Sugden
    Emeritus, University of Edinburgh
    Copyright © 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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