IN GLACIER BAY
This glacier, Margerie glacier, is located deep in
Glacier Bay National Park. You can't walk there, or
take a train, bus, or automobile. A ship or a plane
will do. The picture to the left is the view of
Margerie Glacier that we had while sailing toward it
from a distance.
I was on the Holland America Line ship, the
Here is the National Park Service site on Glacier
Bay. If you click your way around in this site, then
sooner or later you will find this map. Way up
toward the upper left, you will find Tarr Inlet with
Margerie Glacier flowing into it. It is right next to
a very dirty glacier called Grand Pacific Glacier the
terminus of which is just about on the Canadian
border. It is also fun to find them on this satellite
Grand Pacific Glacier is just to the right of
Margerie from this point of view.
The second picture down is part of the dirty one,
Grand Pacific Glacier. You can also see a little bit
of Margerie on the left of this image. The picture
below that is a closer look at the left side of Grand
Mostly what you see in these pictures an "end
moraine" in front of Grand Pacific. That consists of
a lot of dirt and rock dropped by the glacier as it
melted in this position. It is the real dark pile of
stuff on the right side of the lower picture. But
you can see some dark, dirty glacier ice above and
to the left of the moraine. The one coming in from
the left is a side glacier called Ferris Glacier. The
one in the background is part of Grand Pacific.
Margerie Glacier is a "Tidewater Glacier", which
means that it ends in some arm of the ocean where
tides are important. Such glaciers are often limited
by "calving", or having pieces -- sometimes big ones
-- fall off.
You can never be sure just when a glacier will start to
calve or how long it will last. It comes in fits and
starts. When I was at Margerie Glacier, it was
really having a fit with pieces, big and small, falling
into the water every few minutes.
So to the left you can see a landslide of ice falling
into the water.
Margerie Glacier ends in Tarr Inlet in a wall of ice
that was described to be as being 20 stories tall.
The closer you get to it, the more complicated it
Would you like to take a walk on it???????
And how about that reflection?
By the way, the junk in the water is ice that has
I didn't really get this close, I took this with a
And I don't want to walk on it!!! (It does not
look structurally sound.)
And by the way, do you see that piece of the
glacier that looks like a little flap has been
folded to the front? It is at the bottom of the
picture just to the right of the center. That
piece fell off while I was watching. See below
And, just below, is a group of six pictures showing two diffeent calvings of the glacier. In the first
three pictures, a long, thin strip falls into the water (red arrow). Then, actually fifteen or so
minutes later, the piece with the "folded flap" (blue arrow) lets go. As it falls, it breaks up and
takes several other chunks of ice with it. I got these pictures by holding the camera in front of me
and snapping wildly every tinme I saw something move. Of course, I am not posting the dozens of
bad pictures I got by doing that.
There is a cracking noise and a sound a little like thunder when ice breaks and falls. But you can't
wait until you hear it to look or to try to take pictures. It takes the sound a little time to reach
you; by the time you hear it the event is over.
A wave spreads out from
the second calving event
shown in the above set of
pictures. Remember that is
a 20-story wall of ice, so
the wave is bigger than it
looks. It didn't hurt us,
though -- shucks, it wasn't
|You can click in each picture to get a larger version. Use the "back" button to return from
the larger version. If the picture snaps down to fit your screen, put the mouse pointer in it,
wait for an icon to appear in the lower right, and click the icon to see the large version.