Glaciers and Mountains

Ice Art III

Alaska's glaciers, with their great mass, are the dynamic carvers of the mountains and create patterns like nowhere else on Earth. As they have done through every ice age, glaciers grind and move rock with their incalculable weight as gravity pulls them slowly forward. Seasonal changes bring about different patterns, many of them more defined during the summer months after a winter’s snowload has melted off the surface.

Left:  A melt pond of silty water floats an intricately sculpted sheet of ice the size of a sports stadium. As glaciers surge downhill and over high terrain deep beneath it, they rupture at the surface and form huge crevasse fields and melt ponds. The dark matter lacing these Kahiltna Glacier ice ridges is volcanic ash.

Center: Above the terminus of Ruth Glacier moraine deposits collect over the centuries, moving with the ice in ever-changing shapes, and becoming more prominent as the glacier recedes.

Right: The Tokositna Glacier creates wild undulating patterns across its debris field.  Every peripheral glacier (top right in the image) that drops onto the main glacier brings rubble down from its valley, depositing and mixing it all, while adding to the designs. Rain and meltwater fill a plugged opening with crystal clear water, producing a huge lake, the depth of the dark hole is unknown.  When the plug deep within the lake fails, the lake can drain slowly or it can drain in minutes depending on the size of the plug.

Glaciation takes place on a canvas of enormous scale!

All images © Dave Parkhurst