Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Where in the West: Matanuska Glacier

The March 2010 version of WITW was won by Cannibal Panda, who blogs at Lift is like a rock - just lick it! She correctly identified the Matanuska Glacier, which heads in an ice field in the Chugach Mountains about 80 km (50 miles) east of Palmer, Alaska. This view, similar to the one shown a couple days ago, was taken in late February, 2007, from a pullout on Alaska S.R. 1, aka the Glenn Highway. The approximate pullout location is shown below on a Google Earth image.
The Matanuska Glacier is a fun one to visit. In winter or summer, you can stop and have lunch at the Long Rifle Lodge, which overlooks the glacier and should be considered, in and of itself, an Alaskan Experience. In summer, you can drive to a parking lot located about 0.4 km (0.25 miles) from the foot of the glacier, depending on current melting or retreating conditions. It's a very neat glacier – albeit a slippery one – on which to walk. If you find a used roll of Kodak print film from 2001, it's mine.

As for glacial features visible in these few photos I shot three years ago, you can see the lumpy and disorganized terminal morraine in the first photo, and a little bit of one lateral morraine in the last photo, just to the right of the glacier. The low hills behind the glacier in the last photo show the beginnings of Holocene river terraces that continue down canyon (west) all the way to Palmer. The terraces have formed on older till and outwash plain deposits.

References and Links:
Alaska Glaciers Case Study

R&M Consultants, 2005, Glennallen to Palmer Spur Line Soils Studies, Volume 1 of 2, Main Report: Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority (ANGDA). See Section 2.0 Regional Studies, p. 8-20.

Williams, J.R., and Ferrians, O.J., Jr., 1961, Late Wisconsin and Recent history of the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska: Arctic, v. 14, no. 2, p. 82–90.


Silver Fox said...

Any corrections needed for this post, like typos or incorrect measurements will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm not enroute to places near Matanuska!

A Life Long Scholar said...

Darn, how did I miss the question on this one--I know that glacier, having driven past it many times a year when I was growing up...

Silver Fox said...

Life Long, sorry you didn't see it! I'll post some more photos from the area shortly.