King Island, Bering Sea

King Island, Bering Sea

by | Jan 30, 2019

King Island is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) across with steep rocky cliffs on all sides, located in the northern Bering Sea, 86 miles (139 km) northwest of Nome, and 44 miles (71 km) south of Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska. This small isolated island was discovered on August 6, 1778, by Captain James Cook, of the Royal Navy, and named for Lieutenant James King, a member of his exploration party. The Inupiat name for the island was reported to be “Ukiwuk” by E.W. Nelson, of the U.S. Signal Service in 1900, and today rendered as Ugiuvak. It is part of the Bering Sea unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

King Island, and neighboring islands in the Bering Sea such as Sledge Island near Nome, and Fairway Rock and Little Diomede near Wales, are granitic plutons extremely resistant to erosion. In geology, a pluton is a body of intrusive igneous rock that slowly crystallized from magma cooling below the Earth’s surface. A pluton forms a distinctive mass typically several kilometers in dimension. Specific types of plutons include batholiths, stocks, dikes, and sills. Denali, in the Alaska Range, is an example of a large pluton. Examples of smaller plutons are exposed as islands offshore of the Seward Peninsula in the Bering Sea.

Fairway Rock, a small island directly west of the Seward Peninsula near Little Diomede Island, is a porphyritic hypersthene-bearing granite, with orthoclase crystals up to 10 cm long. Little Diomede Island, King Island, and Sledge Island are biotite-hornblende quartz monzonites or granites with extremely variable accessory mineralogy that may have formed during the Cretaceous Period between about 112 and 85 Ma. Read more here and here. Explore more of King Island here:

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