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ECWG Virtual Meeting: Glacier-Fiord-Ocean Interactions in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska by Dr. Bruce F. Molnia, FN80

February 6 @ 8:00 am - 9:30 pm

Explorers Club Members, Associates/Friends, Members’ Guests and Non-Members’ Guest List You are cordially invited to the February 2021 ECWG virtual via Zoom.

About the Presentation

The ~500-km-long Eastern Gulf of Alaska coastline is one of the most active and unique coastlines on Earth. Impacted by high intensity coastal processes and natural hazards, it has changed rapidly, repeatedly, and radically on a variety of time scales, ranging from decadal to millennial. Located adjacent to and including part of the North American Plate/Pacific Plate boundary, this coastal region is subject to active tectonic forces and intense post-Little-Ice-Age isostatic uplift. Maximum rates are as much 4 cm/yr, among the highest on Earth. Crustal warping associated with large magnitude earthquakes has produced significant instantaneous uplift and subsidence, with maximum magnitudes approaching 15 m.

Glaciers exist on all of the mountain ranges adjacent to this coastline. At times, ~20% of the shoreline has been made up of glacier ice. Natural hazards affecting this coastline include: intense storms, storm surge, rapid coastal erosion, extreme seismicity, faulting, instantaneous seismic uplifts, submarine and terrestrial mass wasting, giant waves and tsunamis, glacier advance and retreat, rapid sedimentation, and glacier outburst flooding.

Following large-scale, asynchronous, Little-Ice-Age glacier retreats, at least four bays have appeared. Icy Bay, the most recent, is the product of ~ 50 km of 20th century glacial retreat. With continued warming, Bering and Malaspina Glaciers, the largest surging temperate glaciers in this region and on Earth, may become the locations of the newest coastal embayments.

About Our Speaker

Dr. Bruce F. Molnia, FN80, the Chair of the ECWG has more than five decades of exploration, research, and education experience. During his career, he has led and/or participated in more than 40 polar and sub-polar expeditions. Molnia is a recipient of the Antarctic Service Medal (1968) and the Explorers Club’s Lowell Thomas Award (2019). He is the namesake for Antarctica’s Molnia Bluff.

Molnia’s polar experience began in 1965, when he conducted seismic studies in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic marginal seas from the US Antarctic Research Program’s icebreaker R.V. Eltanin. Since then, most of his efforts have focused on understanding the response of Alaskan glaciers to changing climate, and the dynamics of surging and tidewater glaciers. Molnia has worked in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska area since 1974.

He has authored or co-authored more than 500 publications. In addition to traditional Earth Science studies, some are public policy articles. Others, prepared for senior Department of the Interior officials provide peer-reviewed science for decision making concerning safe offshore oil and gas development. Several were prepared for the Department of Justice for use in arguments before judicial bodies, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

In a career with the U.S. Geological Survey that spanned more than 40 years, Molnia served as: a USGS Research Geologist; Acting Executive Director of the National Research Council’s Polar Research Board; a Senior Legislative Fellow in the House of Representatives; USGS Chief of International Polar and Environmental Programs; Editor of GSA TODAY; Executive Director of the Civil Applications Committee, the Federal interagency committee that facilitates Federal Civil Agencies access to imagery resources of the intelligence community; and most recently as USGS Senior Science Advisor for National Civil Applications.

Molnia, a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA), received the Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award (2016); the USGS Eugene A. Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Communications (2011); three USGS Shoemaker External Communications Awards (2010, 2004, 1999); the GSA Public Service Award (2009); and the GSA Distinguished Service Award (2000).

How to Attend

This presentation will be given on the Zoom platform. Access will be mailed to all members. For help using Zoom please see this post: 

Zoom Meeting Instructions


February 6
8:00 am - 9:30 pm