Tasman Glacier aerial photos 2008
Several glaciers can be readily viewed from the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, although direct access to their tongues is challenging. This spectacular high-alpine area lies to the east of the Main Divide, and takes its dual Maori-English name from the highest peak. Aoraki means ‘The Cloud-Piercer’ in Maori, and the peak was also named after the famous English navigator, Captain James Cook, in 1851. The peak ‘lost its top’ in 1991, reducing the height by about 10 metres. The spectacular rockfall descended onto the tongue of Tasman Glacier, a drop of 2700 metres.
The illustrations of Tasman Glacier are grouped into three sets: aerial photographs, the lake and surroundings, and the braided river plain and Pleistocene features.
Several glaciers descend steeply from the Main Divide to join the Tasman Glacier.
Haast Glacier in the foreground, upper reaches of the Tasman Glacier upper right. The De la Beche Ridge rises above the glacier from mid-photograph towards the top left (April 2008).
Several steep glaciers with ice-falls make up Rudolf Glacier, a major tributary of upper
Tasman Glacier (April 2008).
The north face of Aoraki/Mount Cook (3754 m), bounded by two steep arętes, the
Zurbriggen Ridge on the left and the North Ridge on the right. The hanging glaciers feed into Hochstetter
Glacier, a tributary of Tasman Glacier (April 2008).
Thick carapace of snow, firn and stratified ice covering High Peak (3754 m) on Aoraki/Mount
Cook (April 2008).
The glacier-draped east face of Aoraki/Mount Cook looking towards the head of Tasman Glacier
Looking north along the Main Divide with its numerous flanking arętes, showing the relationship
between the main glaciers, including Tasman Glacier (right), Franz Josef Glacier (left background) and Fox Glacier (left foreground).
View south over the icefall of Haast Glacier towards the snout of Tasman Glacier. In the
distance (left) is Tasman Lake enclosed by the Little Ice Age lateral and
terminal moraines. Aoraki/Mount Cook is to the upper right (April 2008).
Lower Tasman Glacier: The complexity of glacier
flow is illustrated by the arcuate pattern in the supraglacial debris from two tributary glaciers to the right: Haast
(lower right) and Hochstetter Glacier (middle right). They almost truncate the near stagnant tongue of Tasman Glacier (lower left; April 2008).
Ice in the broad accumulation basin of Haast Glacier converges into a narrow tongue that
spills over a rocky lip into debris-mantled Tasman Glacier that lies beneath the wispy clouds (April 2008).
Red-painted Plateau Hut at c. 2200 m, commonly used as a base for ascents of Aoraki/Mount Cook,
lies close to the top of the Hochstetter Icefall (right), whilst debris-mantled Tasman Glacier lies 1100 m below (April 2008).
Heavily crevassed Freshfield Glacier has a smaller accumulation area than flanking Hochstetter and Haast
Glaciers, and does not today reach Tasman Glacier, although the moraines flanking the outlet stream (mid-left) indicate that in
earlier times it did so (April 2008).
The convergence zone of Hochstetter Glacier (lower) and Tasman Glacier flowing in from
the left illustrates how the former is more dynamic and pushes the main tongue aside. This is a zone of strong compressive flow
that results in concentration of supraglacial and englacial debris (April 2008).
Upglacier view of Hochstetter Glacier (left) showing how it almost truncates the main flow
unit of Tasman Glacier. The prominent arcuate debris ridge across the middle of the photograph respresents the limit of the 1991
rockfall that originated from the summit of Aoraki/Mount Cook (April 2008). Since then, the debris has been transported a further
few hundred metres downglacier.
The lower tongue of Tasman Glacier, illustrating the impact of ice from the Hochstetter Glacier
(lower middle). The composite arcuate ridge is from the 1991 rockfall. The expanding lake with icebergs is at the upper right (April 2008).
Zooming in on the arcuate ridge of the 1991 rockfall, we see that it is composed of multiple
ridges of pulverised debris. A supraglacial pond can be seen in the middle of the photo. The ribbed lateral moraine (upper) shows
signs of large-scale slope failure resulting from a lowering of the glacier surface (April 2008).
View across the middle and upper reaches of Tasman Glacier to its true left flank. Note how these
west- and NW-facing slopes are almost ice-free. Although the cloud-shrouded Malte Brun Range reaches almost 3000 m in height, the
absence of ice is a precipitation-shadow effect from the Main Divide to the west. (April 2008).