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The Brooks Range is a mountain range that stretches from west to east across northern Alaskamarker and into Canadamarker's Yukon Territorymarker, a total distance of about 1100 km (700 mi). The mountains top out at over 2,700 m (9,000 ft). Mount Chamberlinmarker, 9020 ft (2,749 m), is the highest peak in the range. Other notable peaks include Mount Istomarker, 8,975 ft (2,736 m) and Mount Michelsonmarker, 8,855 ft (2,699 m). The range is believed to be approximately 126 million years old.

The range is mostly uninhabited, but the Dalton Highway and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Systemmarker run through the Atigun Passmarker (1,415 m, 4,643 ft) on their way to the North Slope and the oil fields at Prudhoe Baymarker. The Alaska Native villages of Anaktuvukmarker and Arctic Villagemarker, as well as the very small communities of Coldfootmarker, Wisemanmarker, Bettlesmarker, and Chandalar Lake are the only settlements in the 700-mile Brooks Range. In the far west, near the Wulik River in the De Long Mountains is the Red Dog Mine, Alaskamarker, largest zinc mine in the world.

The range was named by the United States Board on Geographic Names in 1925 after Alfred Hulse Brooks, who was the chief USGS geologist for Alaska from 1903 to 1924.

Various historical records also referred to the range as the Arctic Mountains, Hooper Mountains, Meade Mountains and Meade River Mountains; the Canadian portion is still often referred to as the British Mountains. The British Mountains are part of Ivvavik National Parkmarker.

Ecology

This mountain range forms the northern-most drainage divide in North America, separating streams flowing into the Arctic Ocean and the North Pacific. The range roughly delineates the summer position of the Arctic front. It represents the northern extent of tree line, with few trees (apart from some isolated Balsam poplar stands) occurring north of the continental drainage divide. The southern slopes of the Brooks Range have some cover of Black Spruce, Picea mariana, marking the northern limit of that tree. As one of the most remote and least-disturbed wildernesses of North America, the mountains are teeming with wildlife, including Dall sheep, grizzly bears, and caribou.

Documented wilderness traverses of the Brooks Range

Brooks Range Mountains
  • Dick Griffith -- Kaktovikmarker to Kotzebuemarker, Alaska (1959-1979) by foot, raft, and kayak: first documented traverse.
  • Roman Dial -- Kaktovikmarker to Kotzebuemarker, Alaska (1986) by skis, foot, packraft and kayak: first traverse in one year.
  • Keith Nyitray -- Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, Canada to Kotzebuemarker (1989-1990) by dog sled, snowshoes, foot, raft, and canoe: first continuous traverse of the entire range. 1,500 trail miles from Canadamarker to Kotzebue. See April '93 issue of "National Geographic."
  • Thor Tingey, Phillip Weidner, Sam Newburry, Dan Dryden -- Marsh Fork Canning River to Kobuk (2000) by foot and packraft.
  • Dennis Schmitt -- Point Hopemarker, Alaska to Mackenzie Rivermarker, Northwest Territoriesmarker (1966-2001) by foot and dog sled: longest and first full length traverse.
  • Peter Vacco -- Bonnet Lake to Cape Lisburne (2003) by snowshoe and foot: first continuous foot traverse from Canadamarker.
  • Roman Dial -- Kivalinamarker to Dalton Highway without resupply (2006) by foot: fastest traverse (624 miles in 22 days, 7 hours, 40 minutes).
  • Bruce Nelson -- Yukonmarker border to Kotzebuemarker Sound (2006) by foot and raft.


Films

  • 2007 - Gates of the Arctic: Alaska's Brooks Range


See also



References



Notes

  1. Some sources (including the USGS 1:250,000 scale map) quote Mount Isto's height as 9,050 ft, which would make it the highest point in the range. Also, some sources quote Mount Michelson's height as 9,239 ft, which would make it the highest point; however this is far above the 8,855 foot figure given on both USGS topographic maps, so it is unlikely to be correct.
  2. C. Michael Hogan, Black Spruce: Picea mariana, GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. Nicklas Stromberg, November, 2008

Further reading

  • Witmer, Dennis "Far to the North: Photographs from the Brooks Range" Far to the North Press (2008) ISBN 0977102807
  • Kauffmann, John M. "Alaska's Brooks Range: The Ultimate Mountains" (Second Edition) Mountaineers Books (2005) ISBN 1594850089
  • Brown, William E. "History of the Central Brooks Range: Gaunt Beauty, Tenuous Life" University of Alaska Press (2007) ISBN 1602230099
  • Cooper, David "Brooks Range Passage" Mountaineers Books (1983) ISBN 089886061X
  • Dover, J.H., I.L. Tailleur, and J.A. Dumoulin. (2004). Geologic and fossil locality maps of the west-central part of the Howard Pass quadrangle and part of the adjacent Misheguk Mountain quadrangle, Western Brooks Range, Alaska [Miscellaneous Field Studies; Map MF-2413]. Reston, Va.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Krumhardt, A.P., A.G. Harris, and K.F. Watts. (1996). Lithostratigraphy, microlithofacies, and conodont biostratigraphy and biofacies of the Wahoo Limestone (Carboniferous), eastern Sadlerochit Mountains, northeast Brooks Range, Alaska U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1568. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Marshall, R. (1970). Alaska wilderness; exploring the Central Brooks Range 2nd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520244982
  • Mayfield, C.F. et al. (1984). Reconnaissance geologic map of southeastern Misheguk Mountain quadrangle, Alaska [ Miscellaneous Investigations Series Map I-1503]. Reston, Va.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Morin, R.L. (1997). Gravity and magnetic maps of part of the Drenchwater Creek stratiform zinc-lead-silver deposit, Howard Pass quadrangle, northwestern Brooks Range, Alaska [Open-file report 97-705]. Menlo Park, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Morin, R.L. (1997). Gravity models of Abby Creek and Bion barite deposits, Howard Pass quadrangle, northwestern Brooks Range, Alaska [U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 97-705]. Menlo Park, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Mull, C.G. et al. (1994). Geologic map of the Killik River quadrangle, Brooks Range, Alaska [U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 94-679]. Reston, Va: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Nelson, P.H. et al. (2006). Potential tight gas resources in a frontier province, Jurassic through Tertiary strata beneath the Brooks Range foothills, Arctic Alaska U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 2006-1172. Reston, VA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. (2003). The natural dispersal of metals to the environment in the Wulik River-Ikalukrok Creek area, western Brooks Range, Alaska U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 107-03. Reston, VA: author.
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. (1995). Natural environmental effects of silver-lead-zinc deposits in the Brooks Range, Alaska U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 092-95. Reston, VA: author.



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