Glaciers

East face of Mount Rainier with views of the summit and the prominent Emmons glacier, carving a valley on the left side.

Mount Rainier's summit and the start of the Emmons Glacier.

NPS Photo

 
There are 25 major glaciers on Mount Rainier and numerous unnamed snow or ice patches. Mount Rainier's glaciers are important indicators of climatic change and essential sources of water, supporting six major river systems. The Emmons Glacier has the largest area (4.3 square miles) and the Carbon Glacier has the lowest terminus altitude (3,600 feet) of all glaciers in the contiguous 48 states.

Mount Rainier Glaciers - Map and descriptions of some of Mount Rainier's major glaciers.
Glacier Features [under construction] - Learn about the unique features and formations created by glaciers and glacial forces.

The Mount Rainier Interactive Glacier Webpages have additional information on the park's glaciers.

 
Glacier Research & Resources
Mount Rainier Glacier Monitoring 2009 (pdf)
Mount Rainier Glaciers - United States Geologic Survey (USGS)
Measuring Glaciers
- Video produced by the North Coast and Cascades Science Learning Network featuring the scientists who study the glaciers of Mount Rainier.
 
Dead trees stand in a boulder-strewn valley with the snowy peak of Mount Rainier rising above the forested hillsides at the head of the valley.

Boulders and dead trees left behind by past debris flows triggered by glacial outburst floods still cover the Tahoma Creek valley.

NPS Photo

Debris Flows from Glaciers
Historically, glacial outburst floods, torrential rains, and stream capture have caused small to moderate size debris flows. Most occur in drainage systems with large glaciers. Less common are debris flows triggered by a drainage diversion in an un-glaciated drainage basin. For example, Kautz Glacier meltwater diverting into the Van Trump Basin triggered debris flows on the south side of the mountain in 2001 and 2003. Glacial outburst floods are one type of geohazard in the park.


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