The Incredible Ice Slot Canyon of New Zealand’s Franz Josef Glacier

We have shown you some of the most beautiful slot canyons in the world here, but there is also another type of slot canyon which forms in glaciers. This particular glacier is in New Zealand and is called the Franz Josef Glacier.

The photographer, Jacki Dickert, said: “The glacial forms were so beautiful! I was surprised how much they reminded me of the sandstone slot canyons in the US Southwest.”

Named as Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere (‘The Tears of Hinehukatere’) by the Māoris, it has a tragic legend associated with it. Hinehukatere loved climbing mountains, and she and her lover Wawe would go together. Wawe, however, was less experienced and was swept away by an avalanche. Hinehukatere cried so much that her tears flowed down the mountain and formed a glacier.

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The glacier is 12 km long and ends 19 km before the Tasman Sea. Glaciers move, both advancing and retreating, and Franz Josef was still growing in 2007.

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As of 2010, however, it has been retreating. This may be due to global warming – other glaciers have been retreating heavily due to the phenomenon.

It is believed that as far back as 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, Franz Josef extended into the sea. The glacier’s retreat and advance has occurred throughout the decades, with a retreating phase being recorded between the 1940s and 1980s, followed by a period from 1984 when it began to advance again – sometimes at the striking rate of 70 cm a day.

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Scientists think that the glacier will lose 38% of its mass by 2100 so this canyon may be long gone by then. Luckily we have Jacki’s images to remind us of what it looks like now.

Sources: 1

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