Johns Hopkins Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Johns Hopkins Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

by | Feb 8, 2019

Johns Hopkins Inlet is a fjord that starts at the terminus of the Johns Hopkins Glacier in the Saint Elias Mountains, about 57 miles (92 km) northwest of Gustavus, Alaska. The inlet trends northeast from the glacier terminus for 5.8 miles (9.4 km) to Jaw Point and then southeast to the head of Glacier Bay at Russell Island, in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

The inlet name is from the glacier, which was named after Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland in 1893 by Harry Fielding Reid of the U.S. Geological Survey. Reid was a geophysicist notable for his contributions to seismology, particularly his theory of elastic rebound that related faults to earthquakes. In 1893, Reid had originally called the glacier at the head of Glacier Bay “Grand Pacific Glacier”, which at the time was at Russell Island. As the Grand Pacific Glacier retreated, two inlets were formed, one to the north was called “Tarr Inlet”, and the other to the west retained the name of “Reid Inlet”. As the Johns Hopkins Glacier continued retreating and lengthening Reid Inlet, the historical relationship to Reid Glacier at Russell Island became obscure and in 1954, the Bureau of Geographic Names changed the name to Johns Hopkins Inlet.

The Johns Hopkins Glacier can discharge enormous quantities of glacial ice into the inlet. The quantity of ice discharged varies from year to year and is greatly affected by seismic activity and local weather. Variations in ice conditions throughout the bay follow no predictable pattern. Water circulation near the glaciers is very erratic as freshwater enters at all depths from the glacier face. Swirls and eddies are common and cause the ice to move slowly in all directions. The fjord has depths of over 600 feet (183 m), and the shore is very steep and rocky. Read more here and here. Explore Johns Hopkins Inlet here:

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