Rock Flour = Turquoise Rivers

Wilken River, Makarora BC, NZ

Wilken River, Makarora BC, NZ

Kerin Folks Flat on the Wilkin River is about an hour into an eight-hour trek to the Top Forks Hut area.  I’ll include more images of that area soon, but felt I had to post this image ASAP. “Rock flour” colours the water the brilliant turquoise blue that is visible in this image. Rock flour is a result of the glacier a few miles upriver, dragging and grinding rocks and stones between the bottom of the glacier and the ground. The curious color of the fine powder that comes out of the glacier’s terminus is the subject of many a tourist’s query. So I’ve been told, rock flour is simply mud that hasn’t been exposed to the air.  Once exposed, after a number of years, it turns brown.  In any event it sure makes for good images.  This is probably one of my favorite, even after being a professional photographer for a number of years.

 Top Forks is a remote part of Aspiring National Park, right in the center of the park, accessible from the Makarora West village area.  The highlight of the Top Forks valley is  Mt. Castor and Mt. Pollux from which hanging glaciers drop house-sized ice blocks throughout the day and night, making a roaring sound heard from the hut.

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5 Responses to “Rock Flour = Turquoise Rivers”

  1. Mike Says:

    Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

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  2. Kam Says:

    Beautiful photo, I hope you don’t mind I shared it and put a link to your blog. ❤

  3. Sarah Says:

    Rock flour, (or glacial flour) is simply particulate loosened by glacial melt. It can also be caused by heavy rains and ‘slips’ (small landslides) that release clay and silt into the water. Limestone makes some of the most reflective rock flour, as its flaky flat particles reflect more light and stay suspended longer but it all eventually washes downriver until it is washed ashore or settles to the bottom somewhere, likely a lake.
    It has nothing to do with exposure to sun…the bottom of a lake is a poor place to get a suntan.

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