Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Susitna Glacier

Ok, so this comes a bit late, but in June I joined Sam Herreid on a quick trip to Susitna Glacier in the Alaska Range. We were putting in a camera to observe the glacier. It's a surge-type glacier, which means that it can accelerate to almost 100 times its normal rate of flow in a few months. It last did that in the 1940s. The combination of normal flow and surges creates these beautiful looped moraines.Susitna Glacier is also interesting, because there are serious efforts under way to build Alaska's largest hydroelectric power plant in its drainage area. This requires some careful thought about how the discharge will evolve, as the glaciers in this area are generally retreating, and how much sediment is being put into the river, in particular if another surge should occur.
We put in the camera by piggy-backing on another project, which got us a helicopter ride in. On the way back we relied on a pack raft, a first one for me.

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