Whale Bay, Prince William Sound

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Whale Bay is on the east coast of the Kenai Peninsula in Prince William Sound, and extends northeast for 4 miles (6.5 km) to Knight Island Passage, about 45 miles (73 km) east of Seward, Alaska. The local name was first reported in 1905 by U.S. Grant of the U.S. Geological Survey.

The snowfall in Prince William Sound is often over 25 feet (7.6 m) per year. Combined with the steep terrain and rapidly changing maritime air temperatures, powerful avalanches occur that have the capability of entraining massive volumes of ice, rocks, and vegetation. Avalanche paths are often indicated in the summer by deeply incised ravines filled with scree (gravel) and cascading streams.

Avalanches and avalanche paths share common elements: a start zone where the avalanche originates at high elevation, a track along which the avalanche flows, and a runout zone where the avalanche comes to rest. The debris deposit at the base of the avalanche path is the accumulated mass of material that remains in the runout zone when the snow melts. Rapid deceleration of the debris at the shoreline will often form an alluvial fan of poorly sorted gravel that gradually becomes vegetated with avalanche-tolerant grasses and alders. Read more here and here. Download the latest version of the CoastView app and explore more of Whale Bay here: