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Geology of Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

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Wrangell, South Eastern Alaska

Wrangell, South Eastern Alaska (Photo credit: ah zut)

Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve is a giant geological laboratory – no less than four impressive mountain ranges can be seen within the park;

  • Wrangells
  • St Elias – (sound familiar?)
  • Chugach
  • Mentasta / Nutzotin

These mountain ranges were created due to the earth’s crust colliding.

Many of the Wrangell mountain peaks were once active volcanoes although only one is active these days, Mount Wrangell – steam can often be seen rising from the vents close to the craters in the winter and during the cooler of the summer mornings. There are, however, no signs that anything more dramatic is about to happen in the near future.

One of the other major geological features of Wrangell – St Elias National Park is the tremendous network of glaciers – headwaters of the river systems which flow throughout the park. These are heavy with sediment and silt braiding as one channel fills up forcing the mighty glaciers to change course.  These rivers of ice can be clearly seen flowing down the valleys between the mountains to reach the sea.

Traveling through Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve is an amazing experience – just stop and look and imagine the sheer forces which were necessary to create and keep transforming this unique and powerful landscape. The park is always changing . . .

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