A rhythmic sequence of sediments deposited in annual cycles in glacial lakes. Light-colored, coarse summer grains are deposited by rapid melting of the glacier. The summer layers grade upward to layers of finer, dark winter grains of clay minerals or organic material that are deposited slowly from suspension in quiet water while streams and lakes are icebound. Varves are useful to the study of geochronology because they can be counted to determine the absolute age of some Pleistocene rocks of glacial origin.

Related Terms:

absolute age
relative age