Donjek Glacier

Donjek Glacier - Canadian Glacier Inventory Project
Donjek Glacier can be seen in the middle of this image feeding into the Donjek river and there is an outline of ancient glacial Lake Donjek. (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002)

Donjek Glacier is located in the St. Elias Mountains icefield, southwest Yukon Territory. It is one of the largest valley glaciers in the area. Donjek Glacier is located at: 61.06°N 139.71°W (USGS, 2007).

  • Several Centuries Ago: A glacial lake formed as a result of Donjek Glacier damming the Donjek river. The lake is estimated to have had a volume of 230 million cubic metres. The lake is believed to have drained catastrophically more than once (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002).

  • 1974: A tributary of the Donjek Glacier surged with no overall effect on the main glacier (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002).

  • 1978: The Donjek Glacier exhibited a minor surge which failed to dam the Donjek River (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002).

Glacier Behaviour:
Donjek Glacier is historically prone to surges and jokulhlaups (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002).

Type: Piedmont valley glacier with a large alluvial fan (Johnson, 1972).

Donjek Glacier - Canadian Glacier Inventory Project
Donjek Glacier spilling out into the Donjek River Valley.
Source: Natural Resources Canada. Photograph by Douglas Hodgson. Copyright Terrain Sciences Dvivision, Geological Survey of Canada.)

Terminus: The glacier expands as it flows into the Donjek River valley forming a piedmont lobe. Due to major glacial surges, this lobe has previously extended to the eastern edge of the Donjek range. These surges would dam the Donjek River creating a small lake in the valley. (Johnson, 1972)

Altitude: 3034m to 1066m above sea level

Length: 56km (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002).

Depth: 550m determined by radar (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002).

Donjek Glacier - Canadian Glacier Inventory Project
1500mm water equivalent (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002).

Mean annual air temperature: -13 degrees C. in 1992 (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002).

Thermal Regime: Subpolar (Clarke & Holdsworth, 2002).

Interesting Facts: In 1998 there was an outburst flood from the Donjek glacier. The water is believed to have been entirely subglacial in origin and as a result of the volume most of the Donjek River valley was covered with water (Claerout, 2005).

The lateral moraine on the southwest valley is approximately 200 feet in height (Johnson, 1972).

Donjek River
This is a view up the Donjek River towards the glacier.


Clarke, G. K. C. & Holdsworth, G. 2002. Glaciers of the St. Elias Mountains. United States Geologic Survey. Available at: (Accessed on 05-03-07).

Claerbout, J. 2005. Donjek Glacier Outburst. University of British Colombia, Ocean and Earth Science Department. Available at: (Accessed on 28-02-07).

Johnson, P. G. 1972. The morphological effects of surges of the Donjek Glacier, St. Elias Mountains, Yukon Territory, Canada. Journal of Glaciology, vol.11, Issue 62, pp.227-234.

United States Geological Survey. 2007. Donjek Glacier. Available at: (Accessed on 03-05-07).

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