Researchers believe the Gozenzawa Gorge in the Tateyama mountain (Northern Alps) range may be a glacier

It is traditionally taught in science textbooks that there are no glaciers in Japan, but that evidence of remnants of former glaciers and the earlier glaciation of Japan can be found in the form of existing glacial cirques (Tateyama Kuranosuke cirque, Sensojiki cirque, Maedake, Ainodake and Mt Mibu cirques – note glacial landforms are extensive in the Northern Alps and more limited in the Central and Southern Alps) as well as of moraines. That this position might be dislodged in the near future – is suggested by a recent a news report by Yomiuri Shimbun suggests that a research team believes it has found a glacier 700 meters long, 200 meters wide and 30 meters thick on the east slope of Mt Oyama, the 3,003 meter principal peak of the Tateyama mountain range. The ice mass is said to be moving at a rate of six to 30 centimeters a month.

Team: N. Alps gorge snow may be glacier

Snow in a gorge in the Tateyama mountain range may be covering a glacier (Courtesy of Tateyama Caldera Sabo Museum)

(The Yomiuri Shimbun Dec 4, 2010)
TOYAMA–A snow-coverd slope in a gorge in the Northern Alps’ Tateyama mountain range in Toyama Prefecture is believed to be a glacier, despite the long-held belief that Japan, a country in the temperate zone, has no such ice fields, a local research team has announced.
The team, from the Tateyama Caldera Sabo Museum in Toyama, discovered that ice in the gorge was moving in a similar manner to that of a glacier.
According to the team, the ice is in the Gozenzawa Gorge on the east slope of Mt. Oyama, the 3,003-meter principal peak of the Tateyama range.
What the team believes is a glacier is 700 meters long, up to 200 meters wide and 30 meters thick.
A glacier is defined as a mass of ice that stays frozen year-round and continues moving for long periods while changing shape due to its own weight and sliding over bedrock.
Last year, the team discovered a manhole-shaped deep hole, which is typically observed in glaciers, at the Gozenzawa Gorge. Observing the hole with a global positioning system from August to October this year, the team discovered that ice was moving six to 30 centimeters a month.
(Dec. 4, 2010)

For further information, see the synopsis (below) of paper presented at a meeting of the 2010 Japan Geoscience Union Meeting:

Finding of the largest glacier ice of Japan in the Tateyama Mountains, central Japan (2009)

By Kotaro FUKUI1*, Hajime IIDA11Tateyama Caldera Sabo Museum

The Gozensawa perennial snow patch is one of the largest perennial snow patch in Japan. Thesnow patch is located in the east-facing slope of Mt Oyama (3003m), and its width and length areabout 700 m and 200 m, respectively. We measured two longitudinal and two transverse ice radarprofiles in mid-September 2009. We identified a large ice body (maximum 30 m in thickness) in allice radar profiles. It is possible that the ice body is the largest one in Japan. The longitudinal iceradar profiles identify internal layers that dip up-glacier, similar to the thrust structures in thecompression zone of a valley glacier. This indicates that the origin of the ice body is glacier ice. To identify ice body activities, we install 25 survey points on the snow patch in October 2009. If we identify the flow of the ice body, the ice body could be regarded as glacier.

Other related references and links:

Quaternary Glaciation of the Japan Alps

Evidence of permafrost environment during the Late Glacial in the southern Japanese Alps by Atsushi Ikeda, et al. (Japan Geoscience Union Meeting 2010)

Late Quaternary glaciations in Japan by Takanobu Sawagaki et al. pp. 216-224 Quaternary Glaciations – Extent and Chronology: Part III: South America J. Ehlers,P.L. Gibbard


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