Muir Glacier

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Muir Glacier
Morse Muir Glaciers 1994.jpg
Type Valley Glacier
Location Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, U.S.
Coordinates 59°06′17″N 136°22′56″W / 59.10472°N 136.38222°W / 59.10472; -136.38222Coordinates: 59°06′17″N 136°22′56″W / 59.10472°N 136.38222°W / 59.10472; -136.38222
Length 11 miles (18 km)
Terminus Ice-contact delta
Status Retreating

Muir Glacier is a glacier in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is currently about 0.7 km (0.43 mi) wide at the terminus. As recently as the mid-1980s the glacier was a tidewater glacier and calved icebergs from a wall of ice 60 m (200 feet) tall.[1]

The glacier is named after Scottish-born naturalist John Muir,[1] who traveled around the area and wrote about it, generating interest in the local environment and in its preservation. His first two visits were in 1879 (at age 41) and 1880. During the visits, he sent an account of his visits in installments to the San Francisco Bulletin. Later, he collected and edited these installments in a book, Travels in Alaska, published in 1915, the year after he died.


Maps showing retreat of Muir Glacier from 1941 to 1982

Muir Glacier has undergone very rapid, well-documented retreat since its Little Ice Age maximum position at the mouth of Glacier Bay around 1780.[2] Between 1941 and 2004 the glacier retreated more than twelve kilometers (seven miles) and thinned by over 800 meters (2625 feet). Ocean water has filled the valley replacing the ice.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Scheffel, Richard L; Wernert, Susan J (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader's Digest Association. p. 259. ISBN 0-89577-087-3. 
  2. ^ Hall, D.K.; Benson, C.S.; Field, W.O. (1995). "Changes of glaciers in Glacier Bay, Alaska, using ground and satellite measurements". Physical Geography. 16 (1): 27–41. 
  3. ^ "Photo of glacier in 1941 and 2004". National Snow and Ice Data Center.