Rock Glacier in Colorado Rockies

November 16, 2021



Photographer: Stan Wagon 

Summary Authors: Andrew Fountain and Stan Wagon 

Rock glaciers are accumulations of ice and rock with rock exposed on the surface and ice hidden within the interior. Unlike talus slopes, rock glaciers flow. There are more than 650 rock glaciers in the Colorado mountains and this photograph shows a rock glacier near Colorado's Mt. Elbert (14,430 feet or 4,398 m), the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains. This feature is on the northeast side of the southeast ridge of Bull Hill (13,761 feet or 4,194), just south of Elbert. One can deduce the existence of ice under the rocks from the steepness of the rock face at the snout, the general inflated shape, and the evidence of down-valley flow. The example shown does not extend much down-valley so it may not be moving. Thus we would think of it as a "feature of interest", meaning that it has characteristics suggesting the presence of ice and might be a rock glacier. Photo taken on September 22, 2021.

Photo details: SONY A6500 camera; ISO 250; f/14; 1/250 second exposure; 53 mm.  

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