Rock glaciers in the San Juan Mountains
B. Johnson


Rock glaciers are common geomorphic features in alpine areas although their formation and flow mechanics are poorly understood. The distribution of rock glaciers within a given area can also provide evidence of local climate variability or help us to understand the genesis of rock glaciers. Here, we present an updated inventory of rock glaciers in the San Juan Mountains based on the work of White (1979). Once the inventory was digitized and checked for accuracy, the distribution of rock glaciers was analyzed by cross-referencing location with rock type, elevation, and aspect. Our results indicate that rock glaciers are most common in quartzite and intrusive rocks that comprise the highest areas of the range. Additionally, we see a weak, but statistically significant, relationship between solar insolation and elevation indicating that rock glaciers were able to form at lower elevations in more shaded valleys. Lastly, for this field conference we present and discuss the rock glaciers in the area south of Ouray. The rock glaciers in this area are diverse and provide a useful representation of the rock glaciers that are seen throughout the rest of the San Juan Mountains.


  1. Johnson, B., 2017, Rock glaciers in the San Juan Mountains, in: The Geology of the Ouray-Silverton Area, Karlstrom, Karl E.; Gonzales, David A.; Zimmerer, Matthew J.; Heizler, Matthew; Ulmer-Scholle, Dana S., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 68th Field Conference, pp. 205-208.

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