Sunday, March 15, 2009

Where in the West: Mt. Susitna

A Life Long Scholar, who blogs at Musings of a Life-Long Scholar, first identified the March Where in the West as The Sleeping Lady of Anchorage, Alaska - a mountain more formally known as Mt. Susitna. A Life Long Scholar described the mountain:
That is the Sleeping Lady who rests across the inlet of what is now Anchorage, Alaska. Her hair streams off to the left of the photo, her toes to the right. She has slept there for a very long time, awaiting the return of her lover. The shape of the mountain was carved by the advance of the glaciers which once covered her resting form.
The mountain's shape resulted from passage of ice across the land; the name came from a Dena'ina legend.
Geology Happens identified the geomorphology of the mountain: Mt. Susitna is a roche moutonnée. Roches moutonnées are elongated rock masses, sometimes as large as mountains, carved by glaciers. The long axis of a roche moutonée is elongated in the direction of ice travel, with a gently sloped and smooth side facing in the upstream or up-ice direction (stoss side) and a steeply sloped and rough side facing in the down-ice direction (lee side). This overall shape is opposite to the shape of a drumlin, another glacial geomorphic feature, one made of glacial till or drift rather than of bedrock.
The gently sloping, smooth side is on the right or north, the steeply sloping, rough side is on the left or south. The ice moved from north to south.

The first photo is from spring or late winter, 1998, looking down Turnagain Arm and across Cook Inlet; the second is from early March, 2007, looking across Anchorage and Knick Arm from Flattop Mountain; the third is from early March, 2009, looking across Knick Arm from the top of the 5th Avenue Mall parking garage. As you can see, I usually manage to get photos of Susitna when it is at least partially snow-covered.

MSRMaps location; coordinates and other maps.


A Life Long Scholar said...

I remember being told as a child that the original native name was "Sushitna", but the "h" got deleted because of the middle syllable's unfortunate resemblance to an English word. No idea if this is true or not though.

Silver Fox said...

I won't try googling that, but it sounds plausible!