Glaciological Studies of the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

  • Arctic Arctic
Keywords: Aerial photography, Boundaries, Cirques, Crevasses, Crystals, Flow, Firn, Formation, Geology, Glaciology, Glaciers, Ice, Impurities, Logistics, Measurement, Nunataks, Size, Velocity, Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska, Taku Glacier, Juneau Icefield, Alaska/British Columbia


In May 1960 a group of Japanese scientists from Hokkaido University, led by Dr. Akira Higashi, left Yokohama for Alaska to conduct a study of the Mendenhall Glacier for a period of 6 weeks. ... Objectives of the project were the collecting of large single ice crystals at a lake at the terminus of Mendenhall Glacier and glaciological investigations of the glacier to elucidate the mechanism of the formation of large single ice crystals. Single ice crystals of large size are urgently needed by physicists at Hokkaido University, who are studying the solid state physics of ice crystals. ... The planned glaciological investigations include measurements of the speed of flow at various points of the glacier; determination of crystal orientation, grain size, and impurity content in the crystal grain and grain boundary for each sample taken at different places. A geological survey of nunataks and cirques near the upper part of the glacier and studies of firn snow were also planned, as well as comparative studies of the Taku Glacier, which is apparently different from the Mendenhall Glacier in many respects. The work schedule was planned as follows: first week, aircraft reconnaissance of the glacier and the Juneau Ice Field, determination of the location of observation sites from air photographs, establishment of a base camp at the terminus of the glacier; second week, search for and collecting of large single ice crystals at the glacier snout and putting them into cold storage in Juneau, establishing a base line across the glacier near the terminus for the determination of the speed of flow; third week, move to the second camp, routine glaciological work at two crevasses of medium altitudes; fourth week, move to the third camp glaciological work at two crevasses of high altitudes, special work on the firn of the ice field and on the geology of nunataks and cirques at the upper part of the glacier; fifth week, move to Taku Glacier, comparative studies of ice at the lower part of the glacier; sixth week, move to the upper part of Taku Glacier and continuation of the work of the previous week on the higher part of the glacier. The project has been supported in part by the Arctic Institute of North America under contract with the Office of Naval Research and by Hokkaido University.