Yahtse Glacier, Icy Bay

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Yahtse Glacier, Icy Bay

by | Aug 26, 2020

Yahtse Glacier starts on Barkley Ridge at Mount Miller, and flows southeast for 40 miles (65 km) to Icy Bay, about 152 miles (245 km) east-southeast of Cordova and 71 miles (115 km) northwest of Yakutat, Alaska. The name was proposed in 1963 by Austin Post of the U.S. Geological Survey, because of the relatively recent retreat of Guyot Glacier that formed another branch on the west side of the Guyot Hills. The name is derived from the Yahtse River, which may have once flowed into Icy Bay in this area.

H.W. Topham reported the name of the river in 1889 as Yahtse-Tah, however, the original Tlingit name was Yas’ei Héen. The river is a short glacier outlet stream extending from the Malaspina Glacier to the Pacific Ocean. The river formerly served as a primary outlet stream for the western portion of the Malaspina. Following the retreat of the Icy Bay glaciers in the 20th century, the outlet of the Malaspina shifted to the Caetani River draining into Icy Bay, and the Yahtse was almost completely abandoned by the early 21st century.

Icy Bay and its tributary fiords were revealed by over 25 miles (40 km) of tidewater glacier retreat during the 20th century. Remnants of shoreline forests abound in the deglaciated areas, and radiocarbon ages of these materials show that the glaciers of this system made two major expansions during the past 2000 years. When the explorer George Vancouver visited the area in 1794, glacier ice was present on the outer coast and the ‘‘Icy Bay’’ seen by Vancouver was actually a small bay formed between two lobes of the Malaspina Glacier now in the area of the modern Yahtse River delta. Read more here and here. Explore more of Yahtse Glacier here:

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