Gorner Glacier

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Gornergletscher
Panorama Monte Rosa Hut 1.jpg
View from Monte Rosa Hut towards the Matterhorn and Dent Blanche
Type Valley glacier
Location Valais, Switzerland
Coordinates 45°58′11″N 7°48′6″E / 45.96972°N 7.80167°E / 45.96972; 7.80167Coordinates: 45°58′11″N 7°48′6″E / 45.96972°N 7.80167°E / 45.96972; 7.80167
Area 57 km2 (1999)
Length 14 km

The Gorner Glacier (German: Gornergletscher) is a valley glacier found on the west side of the Monte Rosa Massif close to Zermatt in the canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is about 14 km (8.7 mi) long and 1 to 1.5 km (0.62 to 0.93 mi) wide. The entire glacial area of the glacier related to Gorner Glacier is 57 km2 (22 sq mi) (1999), which makes it the second largest glacial system in the Alps after the Aletsch Glacier system. Numerous smaller glaciers connect with the Gorner Glacier. Its tribunaries are (clockwise on this map [1]): Gornergletscher (after which the whole system is named), Grenzgletscher, Zwillingsgletscher, Schwärzegletscher, Breithorngletscher and Theodulgletscher (although this one is actually disconnected now); also Monte Rosa Glacier used to be connected. The main tributary is the Grenzgletscher.

Grenz Glacier

An interesting feature of this glacier is the Gornersee, an ice marginal lake at the confluence area of the Gorner- and Grenzgletscher. This lake fills every year and drains in summer, usually as a Glacial lake outburst flood. This is one of few glacial lakes in the Alps exhibiting this kind of behaviour.

There are also several interesting surface features including crevasses and table top forms where large surface boulders have been left stranded above the glaciers surface. Supported by ice that the boulder has sheltered from melting that has effected the more exposed surrounding ice.

It is the source of the Gornera River which flows down through Zermatt itself. However, most of its water gets captured by a water catchment station of the Grande Dixence hydroelectric power company. This water then ends up in the Lac des Dix, the main reservoir of Grande Dixence.

The glacier as well as the surrounding mountains can be seen from the Gornergrat (3,100 m (10,200 ft)), connected from Zermatt by a railway line.

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