LeConte Glacier, Thunder Bay

LeConte Glacier, Thunder Bay

by | Mar 4, 2019

LeConte Glacier starts in the Coast Mountains and flows south for 6 miles (9.7 km) to the head of LeConte Bay, also known as Thunder Bay, at the south end of Frederick Sound, about 20 miles (32 km) east of Petersburg, Alaska. The Tlingit name for the glacier is “Hutli” reported by John Muir in 1884, for the mythical thunderbird.

The glacier was named in 1887 by Lieutenant Commander C.M. Thomas, of the U.S. Navy, for Joseph LeConte. From 1857 to 1869, LeConte was a professor of chemistry and geology at South Carolina College, which is now the University of South Carolina. In September 1869, he moved west to Berkeley, California, to be a professor of geology at the newly established University of California. LeConte co-founded the Sierra Club with John Muir and others in 1892.

Since its discovery, the glacier has retreated nearly 2.5 miles (4.0 km), although it is in a relatively stable position today. LeConte Glacier is the southernmost tidewater glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. The glacier is a popular tourist destination, with operators from nearby Petersburg and Wrangell running excursions to its calving face. LeConte Bay is 810 feet (250 m) deep, and the submerged portion of the glacier is constantly calving icebergs. These are known as “shooters” for the way buoyancy drives them to erupt at the surface. Read more here and here. Explore more of LeConte Glacier here:

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