Westerly View off the bow of the Navigator in the Bradshaw Sound; Fiordland, NZ
January 4th, 2012: Fiordland, a world heritage site, was sculpted by glaciers during the last glacial Ice Age in New Zealand, approximately 20,000 years ago. The glaciers formed steep U-shaped valleys that have thus been flooded with both salt and fresh water. Parts of the fiords have depths exceeding 440m indicative of the glacial ice penetrating below sea level. The rocks that constitute the mountains and islands in Fiordland are primarily granite and gneiss which was resistant to erosion thus maintaining the steep peaks. (Citation: www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/land-and-freshwater/land/geo...)
Visible in this image is a a scar down the side of one of the mountains. This scar is likely caused by a 'tree avalanche'. As the rocks are highly resistant to erosion and incredibly steep there is very little soil formation. Instead the trees and other plants in the area grow on Sphagnum mosses which can retain up to 20 times their dry weight in water. This provides the basis for tree growth however sometimes the weight of the trees can rip the mosses off the rock walls and avalanches of trees occur, scarring the faces of the fiord mountains.