Diamond Point, Iliamna Bay

Diamond Point, Iliamna Bay

by | Jul 3, 2023

Diamond Point is a prominent headland situated between Iliamna Bay to the east and Cottonwood Bay to the south, about 126 miles (203 km) northeast of King Salmon and 75 miles (121 km) west of Homer, Alaska. The name was first published in 1907 on charts by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. Iliamna Bay is a fjord that extends northwest for 6 miles (10 km) from the west coast of lower Cook Inlet into the Chigmit Mountains on the southeast coast of the Alaska Peninsula. The name is taken from Iliamna Lake and according to George C. Martin of the U.S. Geological Survey, the name Iliamna is reputedly ‘the name of a mythical great blackfish, supposed to inhabit this lake, which bites holes in the bidarkas of bad natives’. The Bruin Bay fault system is roughly aligned with the west coast of Cook Inlet and separates the Alaska-Aleutian Range batholith to the west from sedimentary rocks derived from erosion of the batholith and overlying volcanic rocks of the Talkeetna magmatic arc. The batholithic rocks show a rough age progression from older to younger, east to west. Diamond Point consists of granodiorite and quartz monzonite that developed during the Jurassic. The coasts of Iliamna and Cottonwood bays are fringed by unconsolidated surficial deposits that include volcanic debris from nearby Mount Iliamna.

People have occupied this area for at least 11,000 years, representing a wide variety of cultures. These include small, highly mobile bands of hunters, socially stratified fisher-hunter-gatherers who built substantial seasonal villages and relied on stored salmon. This area of lower Cook Inlet represents a cultural crossroads inhabited historically by the Dena’ina Athabascans whose principal territory is to the northeast, the Yup’ik from Bristol Bay, and the Alutiiq from further south along the Alaska Peninsula. They traded, fought, kept each other as slaves and occasionally intermarried. Because of the relatively lush environment and subsistence based on terrestrial mammals and one of the largest sockeye salmons runs in the world in Bristol Bay and Iliamna Lake, the Dena’ina, at least in late prehistoric and historic times, were able to maintain several stable semi-permanent villages. The Yup’ik seasonally traveled east across the peninsula from Bristol Bay to trade, hunt sea otters, belugas, and gather clams since it is only about 12 miles (19 km) over the mountains to Cook Inlet. The introduction of Russian trade goods in the late 18th century is manifested in the archaeological record by the accumulation and display of wealth symbols including dentalium, glass beads and Russian trade goods. Between 1910 and 1930, several villages including Kijik and Old Iliamna were abandoned in favor of Pedro Bay, Nondalton, Kokhanok, and New Iliamna.

A massive deposit of copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry, called Pebble, is located under rolling permafrost-free terrain in the Iliamna region, approximately 200 miles (323 km) southwest of Anchorage and 60 miles (97 km) west of Cook Inlet. The closest communities are the villages of Iliamna, Newhalen, and Nondalton, each approximately 17 miles (27 km) from the Pebble deposit. Plans were proposed to develop an open-pit mine and associated infrastructure for approximately 20 years of mining operations. A total of 1.4 billion tons of material would be mined over the life of the project. In addition to the mine site, the project would have three other major components: a transportation corridor to move the mineral concentrate and bring goods to the project site, a port facility, and a natural gas pipeline from the Kenai Peninsula to the mine site for power generation. Diamond Point was a proposed site for the port facility. Read more here and here. Explore more of Diamond Point and Iliamna Bay here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2022 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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