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Geologic Publications for Mount Rainier

Forty-two years of recession of the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier

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Author(s): V R. Bender, A L. Haines

Document Type:
Publisher: Erdkunde - Archive for Scientific Geography
Published Year: 1955
Volume: 9
Number: 4
Pages: 275 to 281
DOI Identifier: 10.3112/erdkunde.1955.04.04
ISBN Identifier:

Mount Rainier is a volcanic peak located on the western slope of the Cascade Mountains in the State of Washington, with its summit at 46° 51.2' north latitude, and 121° 45.6' west longitude (Greenwich). In form it resembles a truncated cone with an elevation of 4,391.6 meters above sea-level and a base diameter of 13 kilometers at timber line, with corresponds closely to the height of the surrounding foothills where the summits vary between 1,500 and 1,800 meters. Thus Mount Rainier stands with nearly two-thirds of its height above the general level of the terrain.

Upon the exposed flanks of the mountain lie 26 named glaciers, the most extensive single-peak glacial system in the United States, with an area totaling approximately 103 square kilometers. This ice mantle has been diminishing since 1850 as a result of the world wide warming trend taken by the climate since that time. Recognition of the fact that Mount Rainier's glaciers were everywhere receding occurred in 1896 and a number of investigations have been undertaken since that time to determine the extent of the recession.

Most of the work has been concerned with the valley-type Nisqually Glacier which extends down the south side of the mountain from the central ice cap and is the most accessible glacier in the system. The first study, concerned with the rate of flow of the ice mass, was followed by a program of measurement of the linear recession of the terminus, and was later supplemented by work intended to determine the fluctuations in the level of the terminal ice through the measurement of cross-profiles and periodic topographic mapping. Although the early investigations did lead to estimates of the volume of wastage of the terminal portion of the Nisqually Glacier, they were too limited in scope to adequately represent the total effect of recession.

The investigation reported herein was undertaken with the intention of approximating, from available topographic maps, the volume change represented by the wastage of the Nisqually Glacier during the forty-two year period from 1910-1952. The result is a view of the net effect of recession upon that glacier, and a presumption regarding its effect upon the entire glacial system.

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In Text Citation:
Bender and Haines (1955) or (Bender and Haines, 1955)

References Citation:
Bender, V.R. and A.L. Haines, 1955, Forty-two years of recession of the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier: Erdkunde - Archive for Scientific Geography, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 275-281, doi: 10.3112/erdkunde.1955.04.04.