The Brooks Range I
(20-23 June 2001)
Every Summer some "Research Experience for Undergraduates" (REU) summer
students work here at the Geophysical Institute. One of the things they
do is go on a field trip to the Brooks Range, (the range of mountains
bounds Alaska's "North Slope" on the south) to learn about the geology
of northern Alaska. The trip is organized by Bill Simpson, Paul Layer
Doug Christensen of the GI. In 2001 they needed another driver so I
This is one of the best, least dusty stretches of the Dalton highway,
known as the 'haul road' because all the stuff to build and supply the
Alaska pipeline is hauled on it. This is where the Dalton crosses the
River, a few miles from Livengood at the beginning of our trip. It was
near here that some moron with a rifle shot a hole in the pipeline in
Fall of 2001.
(red shirt, at center) holding forth at the first rock stop we made.
Christensen is also in there, which means that two fourths of my grad
was running this field trip.
This is the Yukon River crossing at mile 57 of the Dalton (that's 57
north of Livengood). The view is from the north bank, looking south.
The pipeline roughly parallels the Dalton highway all the way to Prudoe
Bay. It crosses the Yukon River with the road bridge, the northern
of which is seen at right.
This is a pull-off on the Dalton, about 10-15 miles south of the Arctic
Circle, at a place called "Finger Mountain". Finger Mountain is
just a tall rock sticking out of the ground. At left are our 5 Chevy
In background are the pipeline, the road, and the dust plumes of other
vehicles (the dust is just one of the things that make driving on the
the land around "Finger Mountain", including the rock itself. The
is rocky and brushy, with lots of water-filled potholes to help
breed. We camped a few miles north of here, right on the Arctic Circle.
The place was swarming with the little vampires . . .
is Coldfoot, a stop on the road at the southern edge of the Brooks
that serves travellers on the Dalton. These buildings are the cafe
and the post office (left).
Dalton passes up the valley of the middle fork of the Koyukuk River and
under some pretty jagged mountains in the southern Brooks Range . . The
big, bare-rock one has a Alaska Native name, but I forget what it is.
. . . and so
This and the
two pictures are panoramas taken from where we camped, west of
Lake (marked in blue on
the map mentioned above. This is a view east, toward the lake
Atigun Gorge at left. The arrow points to the bluff where I took the
picture on this webpage from.
The view to
View to the
The sky was a lot clearer the second day at Galbraith. The low ridge
there is the terminal moraine of the glacier that used to flow north,
the valley up which the Dalton now runs. The pipeline and the road are
visible crossing the terminal moraine, at the center of the image.
2.5 days at Galbraith Lake, on the northern edge of the Range. I took
on 21 June 2001, the Summer solstice, and, since Galbraith Lake is
like 250 km north of the Arctic Circle, there was of course no sunset.
we all went for a walk up Atigun Gorge (actually the word 'valley'
probably be better). This is a view of its' north side, from its'
similar to the one above, shows the Atigun River, which flows northeast
thru the gorge to join the Sagavanirktok River, which in turn flows
the Arctic Ocean.
of the crags that form the south wall of the gorge.
This is a
of a ravine that runs into the southern side of the gorge. The creek at
the bottom of it literally shoots out of the face of a cliff farther up
the ravine. The folded rocks on the other side are typical of the rocks
on the south of the gorge. The lines on the gravel slope at left are
sheep tracks. We found the remains of one that had gotten bear-killed
eaten, scattered up and down the ravine.
This is a
up the ravine shown above. Water can be see shooting out of the
For scale one of our summer students appears at left center (yes, that
snow lying there on the longest day of the year...).
This is a panorama looking Northwest, back toward our campsite, over
to back) the pipeline, haul road, Atigun River and Galbraith Lake. Our
campsite is just the other side of Galbraith Lake. The ridge that runs
between the mountains is the terminal moraine again, which is composed
of all the rock and stuff that was dumped by the glacier when it carved
out this valley. Beyond it is the North Slope coastal plain.