Monday, April 5, 2010

A day trip to Black Rapids Glacier

Today we did a quick trip to Black Rapids Glacier in the Alaska Range. I know this glacier well, since I spent a lot of time up there during my PhD thesis work. Now we're just trying to keep some basic mass balance and velocity measurements going. Because this work is not funded, I rely on the help of some pilots to get me up there. This year Martin Stuefer and Chris Larsen volunteered. Together with Sam Herreid we took advantage of a beautiful warm spring day to land on the glacier and measure our stakes.

Martin Stuefer's PA12 and Chris Larsen's Cessna 140 on the upper Black Rapids Glacier (the Trinity Basin, named after the three peaks in the background).

Mt. Hayes, on the way to the glacier.

During the M7.2 Denali Fault Earthquake several big landslides came down on Black Rapids Glacier. The rock protects the underlying ice from melting, so now it stands out quite prominently. The left side of the picture is glacier covered by rock, and the right side shows some clean glacier ice that has melted down several meters in the intervening years.
A few years ago the McGinnis Glacier in the Alaska Range had a short and vigorous surge, when the whole glacier started moving very fast for a few weeks to months. This picture shows what's left over. This is actually a glacier, even though it is entirely covered in dirt. But the steep front from the surge is still clearly visible after several years.


  1. Hi there :)
    I so enjoy reading your blog and seeing the wonderful photographs! Thank you....please post lots more :)

  2. I'll try to keep it up, I'm terribly lazy about such things though..
    Greenland is next.

  3. Hi Dana, Martin,
    I can't wait to see your photos from Greenland...I love seeing these icy spots on earth, really beautiful :) I'd love to travel and see some of these places, when my children are grown up, until then, I live vicariously through your posts!
    Thanks again,