• Sunset view of Glacier Bay and the surrounding Fairweather Mountains.

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Landslides and Giant Waves

Geology in Action brochure

Discover how Glacier Bay's dynamic landscape could result in giant tsunami waves.

Geology in Action!

The landscape of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is ever changing. The park’s glaciers, steep rugged slopes, and magnificent views attract over 400,000 visitors each year. Glacier Bay is also a natural laboratory drawing scientists from around the world to study its dynamic environment. The natural processes that formed this impressive terrain are still very much at work. Recently released from the grip of glacier ice, this newly exposed landscape is being shaped by water, ice, gravity, as well as biological and tectonic processes. When these processes coincide with human activities they can present potential hazards to human safety.



The combination of recent deglaciation, relatively frequent earthquakes, steep rocky slopes, and narrow inlets suggests that many locations in Glacier Bay have the potential for generating large tsunami waves.

 
Landslide in Tidal Inlet
The Tidal Inlet landslide has been closely studied. Results have shown that it is currently creeping downlslope at an average of 1.2-1.6 inches per year. If it suddenly released, it could create a massive wave up to 250' high through Tidal Inlet and nearby portions of Glacier Bay.
 

Did You Know?

Ice

In 1899, an earthquake measuring 8.4 on the Richter Scale so shook the glaciers in Glacier Bay, the budding tourism industry nearly died. There was so much ice in the water from the shattered glaciers, visitors to Glacier Bay did not return to for over ten years.