Glacier of the Rhone
The glacier of the Rhone ( Rhonegletscher or Rottengletscher in German) is at the north-eastern end of the Canton of Were worth in Suisse. It gives rise to the the Rhone which runs out then in the Vallée of Conches.
The glacier extends on 10 kilometers and reaches a width of a little more than 1000 meters. Its surface is of 17 km. Like the majority of the alpine glaciers, it passably moved back since the middle of the 19th century. It is easily accessible via the road from the Col of Furka. A gallery dug in the ice makes it possible to visit the interior of the glacier.
SituationThe glacier of the Rhone begins on the south-western face from the solid mass from the Dammastock at an altitude from approximately 3600 meters. The first 2500 meters of the glacier make up of a firn, l´ Eggfirn , which undergoes a unevenness of 600 meters. To the altitude of 3081 meters, the glacier is connected to the Trifgletscher by a small collar, l´ Undri Triftlimi . This other glacier runs out towards north on the Bernese territory in direction of the Col of Susten.
The glacier of the Rhone follows then a softer slope with a declivity from approximately 14% in direction of the south. It is bordered in the east by Galenstock (3586 m), and in the west by Tieralplistock (3383 m) and Gärstenhörnern (3189 m). The glacial language finishes at an altitude of approximately 2250 m and gives rise to the Rhone.
HistoryDuring the periods of Glaciation, the glacier of the Rhone covered a good part of the south-west of Switzerland with a thickness which can reach 2000 meters. The mass of ice separated then with the height from the Lac Léman in two arms of which one of them reached the area in the east of Lyon in France. The other arm moved as for him to north to cover Préalpes Swiss and the Swiss Plateau before leading close to Bern. It joined there current the Glacier of Unteraar which had him also largely advanced.
Last glaciationsDuring the two last major glaciations, the Glaciation of Riss and the Glaciation of Würm, the glacier of the Rhone reached part of the Swiss Plate and the Jurassic mountains in the area of the Tender Mont were partly covered. During the glaciation of Würm, the glacier finished its race close to Wangen year der Aare, between Olten and Soleure. Geological vestiges in the form of Granite or Gneiss of the the Valaisan Alps can be found in the west of the Swiss Plate.
Small Ice AgeDuring the Small Ice Age and until the beginning of the 20th century, the glacier went down until in the valley from Conches at the level of the village from Gletsch to approximately 1800 meters from altitude. Its language was then not far from the hotel of the village. In 1856, the glacier reaches a projection record which it is possible to imagine today thanks to the moraines and with the stones deposited by the mass of ice.
Glaciology and evolutionThe glacier of the Rhone belongs to the most studied glaciers of the Alps. In 1546, Sebastian Münster made of it description in its work Cosmographia Universalis . The erratic blocks of the Swiss Plate with their imposing mass could not be brought by the only force of water and it is this report which pushed the scientists to be been interested more closely in the alpine glaciers, thus establishing the bases of the Glaciologie. Louis Agassiz was one of the principal pioneers on the matter and studied inter alia the glacier of the Rhone.
The first measurements on the glacier of the Rhone go up with 1874. For this year, the length, the thickness of the ice and other observations have carefully been consigned. The rate of flow of the glacier and the direction borrowed by the glacial mass are measured in several points. The result of this research was published for the first time in 1916 with Vermessungen amndt Rhonegletscher 1874-1915 by Paul-Louis Mercanton. Since 1874, the glacier moved back each year of 8,5 meters on average (- 11,1 meters in 2001/2002, -2 meters in 2002/2003). Its thickness decreases annually by 25 centimetres.
TourismSince the Hotel View-point (2271 m) located close to the road of the collar of Furka, a path carries out at the edge of the glacier where one can visit a gallery dug directly in the ice. The retreat of the glacier requires to dig a new gallery regularly. The entries of the old caves are sometimes still visible downwards. The retreat of the glacier however had an impact on the tourist interest of the site. N the other hand, various animal species and vegetable colonized the old site of the glacial language low in the valley, taking part in the biological richness of High-Were worth.
LiteratureThe glacier was the subject of a poem of Victor Hugo, Dicté in the presence of the glacier of the Rhone in the Sheets of autumn .
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