• Winter light on the Fairweather Range

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Glacial Outburst Occurs at Abyss Lake

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Date: September 6, 2006
Contact: Chuck Young (Chief Ranger), (907) 697-2230
Contact: Tomie Lee (Superintendent), (907) 697-2230

Boaters in Dundas Bay, located in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, this weekend reported that Abyss Lake has apparently released a large quantity of water as a result of a predicted sudden glacial outburst.

Park staff and researchers had been predicting since early August that a glacial outburst, or “jokulhlaup” would occur at the lake, draining a huge portion of the lake into the western arm of Dundas Bay. Campers, hikers, boaters, kayakers were warned to stay out of this area due to the potential for catastrophic flooding downstream which could occur without warning. The outburst apparently occurred late Friday or early Saturday. There were no reports of injuries or property damage.

Floating ice from the outburst, and several large trees could be seen floating in the sediment- laden waters of Dundas Bay. Boaters should be cautioned to be aware of these navigational hazards if they will be boating in the area. Other than this warning, observations indicate that the danger of catastrophic flooding has passed, at least until the lake fills again. Park visitors may safely resume their recreational activities throughout Dundas Bay. Similar events have occurred in Abyss Lake most recently in the summers of 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2005.

Park staff plan to conduct a flight over the area to provide a more thorough assessment of the extent of the flooding.

For the most up- to- date information on the status of this area, contact the park’s Visitor Information Station at 907- 697- 2627.

Did You Know?

Western Hemlock

Downed logs in advanced stages of decay provide the ideal habitat for Western Hemlock seedlings to take root.