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Cryoplanation (or Cryoplanation Terraces) is the alteration of a terrestrial surface by intense frost action that effectively reduces slope steepness and lowers mountain and hill peaks.[1]

The term cryoplanation was introduced by Kirk Bryan in 1946 [2] and it is a type of frost weathering that often modifies the landscape into terraces. These terraces are called Cryoplanation Terraces. Czudek described cryoplanation terraces as “gently inclined or nearly horizontal bedrock-cut benches on slopes, spurs and on broad interfluves” that are formed by the “parallel retreat of steeper slope segments under periglacial conditions”.[3] Additionally, with the effect of cryoplanation on the landscape, the vegetation on these frost-altered terraces is also reshaped. The vegetation tends to be uniquely uniform both laterally and vertically.[4]

The results of this unique freeze-thaw cycle are customarily found in periglacial regions including the Arctic, Eastern Siberia, and Alaska. They may also be found in areas that currently or have sometime in the past experienced intense seasonal freezing or permafrost.[3]

Since its initial introduction to the geologic community it has been the cause of a variety of conflicting attitudes. According to Hall and André the theory has caused more confusion than anything else because of “the almost complete absence of actual data from active cryoplanation terraces”.[2]


  1. ^ "cryoplanation". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Hall, Kevin; Marie-Françoise André (2010). "Some further observations regarding ‘‘cryoplanation terraces’’ on Alexander Island.". Antarctic Science 22 (2): 175–183. doi:10.1017/s0954102009990617. 
  3. ^ a b Czudek, Tadeáš (1995). "Cryoplanation Terraces: A Brief Review and Some Remarks.". Geografiska Annaler. Series A, Physical Geography. 77 (1/2): 95–105. doi:10.2307/521280. 
  4. ^ Raup, Hugh M. (1951). "Vegetation and Cryoplanation.". Ohio Journal of Science 51 (3): 105–116.