The literature on drumlins is pervaded by the notion that their longitudinal profile is usually highly asymmetric with a stoss steeper end and a lee gentler end, and that this can be used to infer the palaeo ice flow direction. The idea is built up in many papers covering more than a century of research. However, most of the early published papers were qualitative in nature and more recent quantitative papers appear to challenge the ubiquity of the classical stoss–lee shape. Here the shape of the drumlin longitudinal profile of 29,238 drumlins in the British Isles has been analysed. Drumlins were grouped into flowsets for which a palaeo ice flow direction was inferred independently of the drumlin shape. Given such ice flow directions it was then possible to identify the upflow and downflow ends of each drumlin and to trace and extract its longitudinal profile. Results indicate that the highest point of the drumlin is usually found around half way along the profile. The mean slope angles at the stoss and lee ends were found to be very similar. Finally, the average profile built from all mapped drumlins appears almost symmetric. In conclusion, drumlin longitudinal profile is far from being the classically asymmetric shape widely reported in text-book descriptions. Drumlins are mostly symmetrical in shape with a very slight tendency towards the classical shape. Highly asymmetric drumlins do exist but are rare and with an almost equal numbers of drumlins that are the reverse of this. These findings are verified both at the entire population level and the flowset level. This demonstrates that the idealized stoss–lee shape of classically-asymmetric drumlins is not representative of the population and should be replaced with that of mostly symmetric bumps. Drumlin shape is not a good indicator of the palaeo ice flow direction.
Bibliographical noteReference text: Alden WC. 1905. Drumlins of south-eastern Wisconsin. United States Geological Survey Bulletin 273: 19–22.
Alden WC. 1918. Quaternary geology of south-eastern Wisconsin. United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 106.
Alley RB, Blankenship DD, Bentley CR, Rooney ST. 1987. Till beneath Ice Stream B: 4. A coupled ice till flow model. Journal of Geophysical Research 92: 8931–8940.
Alley RB, Blankenship DD, Rooney ST, Bentley CR. 1989. Water-pressure coupling of sliding and bed deformation: III. Application to Ice Stream B, Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology 35: 130–139.
Armstrong JE, Tipper HW. 1948. Glaciation in north central British Columbia. American Journal of Science 246: 283–310.
Barnett HF, Finke PG. 1971. Morphometry of landforms; drumlins. Army Natick Labs Mass Earth Sciences Lab: technical report ES-63.
Benn DI, Evans DJA. 2006. Subglacial megafloods: outrageous hypothesis or just outrageous? In Glacier Science, vol. 8, P.Knight (ed). Blackwell Publishing: Malden, Oxford; 42–46.
Benn DI, Evans DJA. 2010. Glaciers & Glaciation. Hodder Arnold: London; 451.
Bergquist SG. 1941. The distribution of drumlins in Michigan. Michigan Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters 27: 451–464.
Blake W. 1956. Landforms and topography of the Lake Melville area, Labrador, Newfoundland. Geography Bulletin, Department of Mines and Technical Survey, Ottawa, Canada 9: 93–97.
Boulton GS. 1979. Processes of glacier erosion on different substrata. Journal of Glaciology 23: 15–38.
Boulton GS. 1987. A theory of drumlin formation by subglacial sediment deformation. In Drumlin Symposium. J.Menzies and J.Rose (eds). Balkema: Rotterdam; 25–80.
Chamberlin TC. 1883. Preliminary paper of the terminal moraines of the second glacial epoch. US Geological Survey, 3rd annual report; 291–402.
Charlesworth JK. 1924. The glacial geology of north-east Ireland. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 36B: 174–314.
Charlesworth JK. 1927. The post-glacial erosion theory of drumlins. Geological Magazine 64: 157–161.
Charlesworth JK. 1939. Some observations on the glaciation of north-east Ireland. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 45B: 255–295.
Charlesworth JK. 1957. The Quaternary Era. Arnold: London; 389–403.
Chorley RJ. 1959. The shape of drumlins. Journal of Glaciology 3: 339–344.
Clapperton CM. 1989. Asymmetrical drumlins in Patagonia, Chile. Sedimentary Geology 62: 387–398.
Clark CD. 1999. Glaciodynamic context of subglacial bedform generation and preservation. Annals of Glaciology 28: 23–32.
Clark CD, Meehan RT. 2001. Subglacial bedform geomorphology of the Irish Ice Sheet. Journal of Quaternary Science 16: 483–496.
Clark CD, Hughes ALC, Greenwood SL, Spagnolo M, Ng F. 2009. Size and shape characteristics of drumlins, derived from a large sample, and associated scaling laws. Quaternary Science Reviews 28: 677–692.
Close MH. 1866. Notes on the general glaciation of Ireland. Journal of the Royal Geological Society of Ireland 1: 207–242.
Coleman AP. 1941. The Last Million Years. University of Toronto Press: Toronto.
Crosby IB. 1934. Evidence from drumlins concerning the glacial history of Boston basin. Geological Society of America Bullettin 45: 135–158.
Dardis GF, Hanvey PM. 1994. Sedimentation in a drumlin lee-side subglacial wave cavity, northwest Ireland. Sedimentary Geology 91: 97–114.
Dardis GF, McCabe M, Mitchell WI. 1984. Characteristics and origins of lee-side stratification sequences in Late Pleistocene drumlins, Northern Ireland. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 9: 409–424.
Davis WM. 1884. The distribution and origin of drumlins. American Journal of Science 28: 407–416.
Deane RE. 1950. Pleistocene geology of the Lake Simcoe District, Ontario. Canadian Memoirs 256.
Dixon EEL, Maden J, Trotter FM, Hollingworth SE, Tonks LH. 1926. The Geology of Carlisle, Longtown and Silloth District. Geological Survey of Great Britain: London.
Dunlop P, Clark CD. 2006. The morphological characteristics of ribbed moraines. Quaternary Science Reviews 25: 1668–1691.
Eastwood T, Dixon EEL, Hollingworth SE, Smith B. 1931. The geology of the Whitehaven and Workington district. In Memoirs of the Geological Survey of England and Wales. Her Majesty's Stationary Office: London.
Ebers E. 1926a. Die bisherige ergebnisse der drumlinforschung. Eine monographie der drumlins. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Palaeontologie Abhandlungen 53B: 153–270.
Ebers E. 1926b. Der eberfinger drumlinfeld. Geographisches Jahresheft 39: 47–85.
Embleton C, King CAM. 1975. Glacial Geomorphology. Arnold: London; 403–429.
Everett W. 1976. Ice-movement direction from drumlin morphology: comments on the paper by
Gravenor CP. Journal of Glaciology 17: 158–159.
Fairchild HL. 1907. Drumlins of central western New York. New York State Museum Bulletin 111: 391–443.
Fairchild HL. 1929. New York drumlins. Rochester Academy of Science 7: 1–37.
Francek MA. 1991. A spatial perspective on the New York drumlin field. Physical Geography 12(1): 1–18.
Früh J. 1896. Die drumlins-landschaft, Landschaft, mit specieller Berücksichtigung des alpinen Vorlandes. Bericht über die Thätigkeit der St Gallen Naturwissenschaft: 325–396.
Gluckert G. 1973. Two large drumlin fields in central Finland. Fennia 120: 5–37.
Gravenor CP. 1953. The origin of drumlins. American Journal of Science 251: 674–681.
Gravenor CP. 1974. The Yarmouth drumlin field, Nova Scotia, Canada. Journal of Glaciology 13(67): 45–54.
Hall J. 1843. Geology of New-York: Part IV comprising the survey of the Fourth District. Carroll and Cook Printers: Albany.
Harry DG, Trenhaile AS. 1987. The morphology of the Arran drumlin field, southern Ontario, Canada. In Drumlin Symposium. J.Menzies and J.Rose (eds). Balkema: Rotterdam; 161–173.
Heidenreich C. 1964. Some observation on the shape of drumlins. Canadian Geographer 8(2): 101–107.
Hess DP, Briner JP. 2009. Geospatial analysis of controls on subglacial bedform morphometry in the New York drumlin field – implications for Laurentide ice sheet dynamics. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 34: 1126–1135.
Hollingworth SE. 1931. The Glaciation of Western Edenside and adjoining areas and the Drumlins of Edenside and the Solway Basin. Journal of the Geological Society 87: 281–359.
Hughes ALC. 2008. The last British Ice Sheet: a reconstruction based on glacial landforms. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.
Hughes ALC, Clark CD, Jordan CJ. 2010. Subglacial bedforms map of Britain. Journal of Maps v2010: 543–563.
Johnson L. 1882. The parallel drift-hills of western New York. Transaction of the New York Academy of Science 1: 77–80.
Keilhack K. 1897. Über die drumlinlandschaft in Norddeutschland. Jahrbuch der Königlichen Preußischen Geologischen Landesanstalt 17: 163–188.
Kinahan GH, Close MH. 1872. The general glaciation of Iar-Connaught and its neighborhood, in the counties of Galway and Mayo. Hodges, Foster & Co.
King EC, Woodward J, Smith AM. 2007. Seismic and radar observations of subglacial bed forms beneath the onset zone of Rutford Ice Stream, Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology 53: 665–672.
King EC, Hindmarsh RCA, Stokes CR. 2009. Formation of mega-scale glacial lineations observed beneath a West Antarctic ice stream. Nature Geoscience 2(8): 529–596.
Krüger J, Thomsen HH. 1984. Morphology, stratigraphy, and genesis of small drumlins in front of glacier Myrdalsjokull, south Iceland. Journal of Glaciology 30: 94–105.
Kupsch WO. 1955. Drumlins with jointed boulders near Dollard, Saskatchewan. Geological Society of American Bulletin 66: 327–338.
Leverett F. 1902. Glacial Formations and Drainage Features of the Erie and Ohio Basins. Unite States Geological Survey Memoires 41.
Lewis HC. 1894. Papers and notes on the Glacial geology of Great Britain and Ireland. Longmans, Green & Co.: London & New York.
Lincoln DF. 1892. Glaciation in the Finger Lake Region of New York. American Journal of Science 144: 290–301.
McCabe AM. 1989. The distribution and stratigraphy of drumlins in Ireland. In Glacial Deposits in Great Britain and Ireland, EhlersJ, GibbardPL, RoseJ (eds). Balkema: Rotterdam; 421–435.
Menzies J. 1979a. A review of the literature on the formation and location of drumlins. Earth Science Reviews 14: 315–359.
Menzies J. 1979b. The mechanics of drumlin formation with particular reference to the change in pore-water content of the till. Journal of Glaciology 22: 373–384.
Menzies J. 1984. Drumlins: a Bibliography. Geo Books: Norwich.
Miller H. 1885. On boulder-glaciation. Proceedings of the Physical Society 5: 156–189.
Mills HH. 1980. An analysis of drumlin form in the northeastern and north-central United States: summary. Geological Society of American Bulletin 91: 637–639.
Mitchell WA. 1994. Drumlins in ice sheet reconstructions, with reference to the western Pennines, northern England. Sedimentary Geology 91: 313–332.
Ó Cofaigh C, Dowdeswell JA, King EC, Anderson JB, Clark CD, Evans DJA, Evans J, Hindmarsh RCA, Larter RD and Stokes CR. 2010. Comments on Shaw J, Pugin A, Young R (2008): ‘A meltwater origin for Antarctic Shelf bedforms with special attention to megalineations’, Geomorphology 102, 364–375. Geomorphology 117: 195–198.
Piotrowski JA, Smalley IJ. 1987. The Woodstock drumlin field, southern Ontario, Canada. In Drumlin Symposium, Menzies and Rose (eds). Balkema: Rotterdam; 309–321.
Rose J, Letzer M. 1975. Drumlin measurements: a test of the reliability of data derived from 1:25,000 topographic maps. Geological Magazine 112: 361–371.
Rothpletz A. 1917. Die Osterseen und der Isar-Vorlandgletscher. Landeskundliche Forschung der Geographischen Gesellschaft München 12: 99–314.
Schmidle W. 1932. Die drumlinhügel des diluvialen Rheingletschers. Fortschritte der Geologie und Palaontologie 11: 341–375.
Sharp RP. 1953. Glacial features of Cook County, Minnesota. American Journal of Science 251(12): 855–883.
Shaw J. 1989. Drumlins, subglacial meltwater floods and ocean responses. Geology 17: 853–856.
Shaw J, Freschauf RC. 1973. A kinematic discussion of the formation of glacial flutings. Canadian Geographer 17: 19–35.
Shaw J, Munro-Stasiuk M. 2006. Reply to Benn and Evans. In Glacier Science, 8, Knight (ed). Blackwell Publishing: Malden, Oxford; 46–50.
Shaw J, Young RR. 2010. Reply to comment by Ó Cofaigh, Dowdeswell, King, Anderson, Clark, DJA Evans, J. Evans, Hindmarsh, Lardner and Stokes Comments on Shaw J, Pugin A, Young R (2009): ‘A meltwater origin for Antarctic Shelf bedforms with special attention to megalineations’. Geomorphology 102, 364–375. Geomorphology 117: 199–201.
Sieger R. 1893. Zur entstehunggeschichte des Bodensees. Festschrift Ferdinand Freiherrn von Richthofen zum sechzigsten Geburtstag, Reimer, Berlin; 55–76.
Slater G. 1929. The structure of the drumlins exposed on the south shore of Lake Ontario. New York State Museum Bulletin 281: 3–19.
Smalley IJ. 1966. Drumlin formation: a rheological model. Science 151: 1379–1380.
Smalley IJ, Unwin DJ. 1968. The formation and shape of drumlins and their distribution and orientation in drumlin fields. Journal of Glaciology 7: 377–390.
Smalley I, Warburton J. 1994. The shape of drumlins, their distribution in drumlin fields, and the nature of the sub-ice shaping forces. Sedimentary Geology 91: 241–252.
Smith AM, Murray T, Nicholls KW, Makinson K, Adalgeirsdóttir G, Behar AE, Vaughan DG. 2007. Rapid erosion, drumlin formation, and changing hydrology beneath an Antarctic ice stream. Geology 35(2): 127–130.
Smith MJ, Clark CD, Wise SM. 2001. Mapping glacial lineaments from satellite imagery: an assessment of the problems and development of best procedure. Slovak Geological Magazine 7: 263–271.
Smith MJ, Rose J, Gousie MB. 2009. The Cookie Cutter: a method for obtaining a quantitative 3D description of glacial bedforms. Geomorphology 108: 209–218.
Spagnolo M, Clark CD, Hughes ALC, Jordan C. 2008. How thick are drumlins; An analysis of drumlin relief for a large sample. International Geological Conference, Oslo, Norway. Abstract CGG02705L
Spagnolo M, Clark CD, Hughes ALC, Dunlop P, Stokes CR. 2010. The planar shape of drumlins. Sedimentary Geology, 2010. 232: 119–129.
Tarr RS. 1898. The Physical Geography of New York. Part IV: the influence of the glacial period upon topography. Bulletin of the American Geographical Society 30: 183–225.
Trenhaile AS. 1971. Drumlins: their distribution, orientation and morphology. Canadian Geographer 15: 113–126.
Troll C. 1924. Der diluviale Inn-Chiemsee-Gletscher. Forschungen zur dt. Landes- u. Volks- kde 23(1): 1–121.
Trotter FM. 1929. Glaciation of eastern Edenside, the Alston Block and the Carlisle Plain. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 85: 549–609.
Wilson JT. 1938. Drumlins of south west Nova Scotia. Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada 32(Ser. 3 Sec. 4): 41–49.
Wright HE. 1962. Role of the Wadena lobe in the Wisconsin glaciation of Minnesota. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America 73: 73–100.
Wysota W. 1994. Morphology, internal composition and origin of drumlins in the southeastern part of the Chełmno-Dobrzyń Lakeland, North Poland. Sedimentary Geology 91: 345–364.
- longitudinal profile