Largest Piedmont Glacier

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A piedmont glacier is a valley glacier which has spilled out onto relatively flat plains, spreading into bulb-like lobes.  The formation of a piedmont glacier happens when ice flows down a steep valley and spills out onto a relatively flat plain.

The largest piedmont glacier in the world in found in southeastern Alaska and is known as the Malaspina Glacier.  The glacier is named after Alessandro Malaspina, an Italian explorer with the Spanish Navy who visited the area in 1791.  This piedmont glacier is 65 km (40 mi) wide and 45 km (28 mi) long, with an area of some 3,900 km(1,500 sq mi).

Malaspina Glacier is a compound glacier, formed by the merger of several valley glaciers, including Agassiz Glacier and Seward Glacier.

This perspective view of Malaspina Glacier was created from Landsat satellite imagery and topography from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM).  This color composite shows glacial ice in light blue, snow in white, vegetation in green, bare rock in grays and tans, and the ocean (foreground) in dark blue. Agassiz Glacier is on the left and Seward Glacier is on the right with Malaspina Glacier in the middle.


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Malaspina Glacier. Source: NASA.

Malaspina Glacier. Source: NASA.

In this Landsat image, the brown lines due to moraines, which are areas where soil, rock, and other debris have been scraped up by the glacier and deposited at its sides.

Malaspina Glacier. Image acquired September 24, 2014. Source: NASA.

Malaspina Glacier. Image acquired September 24, 2014. Source: NASA.

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