Ablation!

Hilary and I would like to start by apologizing for our recent lack of posts.  We have been almost internet-less for the last four days and pretty busy to boot.  We’ve been at Lake Fryxell since the 29th of October.  Our Halloween was a bit lackluster with just the two of us and no costumes, but at least we had wigs to wear!

My post today is one I’ve been delaying for no particular reason since my hike up Andrews Ridge.  While I was hiking around Lake Hoare two weeks ago I came across some exceptionally beautiful ice formations that are the result of a little thing called ablation.  Ablation is basically ice mass loss.  In this case its the result of sublimation and evaporation of lake ice due primarily to sediment deposition.  Wind blows the sediment from the surrounding mountains onto the lakes where it gets trapped in depressions in the ice surface.  The dark color of the sand and rocks results in increased temperatures around the sediment and consequently more melting occurs at those locations than those with no sediment.  That process combined with the effect of wind and plenty of time can result in this:

Image

and this:

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Each of these “ice mesas” – probably not the real term –  is at least three feet tall and about a foot and a half across.  Needless to say I was pretty excited when I saw them and spent no less than 10 minutes running between them like a pinball.

I’ll see if I can get some of those Halloween pics from Hilary for our next post.  We will be heading to Lake Bonney tomorrow morning.  Hopefully, we have internet when we get there so we can check in!

-Kyle

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3 responses to “Ablation!”

  1. MaryBee says :

    They look like ice hoodoos

  2. Marian Cronin says :

    wow, I had no idea there were such things…thanks for the science lesson! 🙂

  3. William K. Bawden says :

    Very interesting! Your excellent photographs reminded me of Springtimes in Fort Churchill in the 1950s. ( I experienced four in a row!) Sublimation too required little or no explanation in high school science classes then as our mothers put wet clothes on the line [clothesline : an artefact of the pre-drier epoch], saw them freeze stiff, and then brought them into the house dry. Bill (Hilary’s godfather)

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