Experiment Moraines

Download the printable Experiment Sheet here.

The great weight of glaciers causes the ice to grind away at nearby rocks to form a fine sediment called called rock flour, and large rocks from the valley and canyon walls as it moves.  This experiment actually simulates what happens when a glacier melts and finally deposits the rock flour (chalk) and large boulders (gravel). When the glacier melts it drops boulders into a deposit called a moraine and glacial rock flour gives mountain lakes their milky color. 

Here we use gelatin to demonstrate melting a glacier to see how rocks deposits are formed up when a glacier melts, from sugary fine rock flour to large boulders. We call these rocks that are deposited at the end of a melting glacier a "terminal moraine". Other moraines can form along the sides or even within or between glaciers.


Warm Water
Tray to collect water

  1. Prepare gelatin according to directions and suspend rocks    in it (like fruit)
  2. After chilling, place gelatin on a tray to collect excess water
  3. Pour warm water on the gelatin
  4. Observe the result

Questions to consider: 

  • Describe what happens when the water hits the gelatin
  • Have you ever noticed objects frozen in ice?
  • Have you ever noticed rocks in nature that looked out of place?

Examples of Glaciers 

Here in Greenland, a glacier is melting, leaving behind a sediment deposit at its end, or terminus. This is called a "terminal" moraine because it forms at the end of the glacier.  


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