Tolsana - A Mud Volcano in AK

In August 2007 I took this trip to the Glenallen area of AK with Dr. Galen Gisler, who was visiting from U. of Oslo to install a big program on one of ARSC's machines. The goal of the trip: to find and sample a "mud volcano" for some of Galen's colleagues in Norway.

First we go south east on the Richardson Highway, along the north edge of the Tanana River Valley. Here's a view south across the valley (AK RAnge mountains in background). Here's a panorama:
(Click image for large picture)




A right turn at Delta Junction and head due south, up the valley of the Delta River.


Delta Valley, Black Rapids Glacier in distance. Click for large image.


And through the AK Range:


Click on the above for a full-size picture.




Gulkana Glacier comes down out of the mountains to the east of the road near the top of the pass through the AK Range:




I think this mysterious feature is either (a) a pingo or (b) an alien landing pyramid. From here we went down into Glenallen, took a right and headed west for ~20 km to a campground at Tolsana, which is near where the "mud volcano" is . . .

The trail in goes through mucky black spruce forest:




We had the usual escort of mosquitos, though not nearly as bad as they sometimes are.




The mud volcano site is surrounded by dying black spruce wood. Those potholes are the actual 'vents'. (click for large version)




Bubbles of gas coming out of the vents are probably CO2 (above, below), not methane, since there was no smell of 'swamp gas' we could detect.




Galen gets his samples; I help by taking the picture and nearly falling in.



There's salt encrusting some patches, like under the stick at right. It was confirmed to be sodium chloride via the 'taste test'; probably why so many mooses seem to come here.



Life thrives in the vents, too, in brown-green patches of algae. It seems to make some kind of gas itself (inset, upper left).



Heading back: looking back east toward Glenallen we stopped to get a tourist shot of Mt. Drum (or at least of some clouds . . .).



Donnelly Dome is a lone mountain standing at the north end of the Delta Valley, about 30 km south of Delta Junction. On the way back to Fairbanks it had an orographic cloud hanging over it. Next stop, home.