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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

More strange things in Antarctica





Just when you thought there were no more strange things to report from the polar regions, along come two more......

The top image shows an "ice tower" near the summit of Mount Erebus, near the Ross Sea coast.  It is actually a natural chimney stack.  This is a point at which volcanic gases are venting off.  They are hot enough to force their way through the ice and snow cover in a sub-zero environment.  but as the gas rises the water vapour component freezes, and so a sort of chimney stack starts to grow.  It gets taller and taller, leaning over in response to the prevailing wind direction, and eventually it becomes unstable and collaprses -- and the whole process starts again.  You can see the debris from fallen and broken stacks lying around on the snow surface.

The bottom two images (also from Antarctica)  have caused quite a stir since they look like a "frozen wave".  However, there has been no instant freezing of breaking water here.  Blue ice of this type may be millions of years old, and here it has been brought to the surface, maybe by thrusting within the glacier, and then some strange fluted features have been created on its surface by summer melting, which also helps to strip off a veneer of modern snow which masks the feature in the winter.  Very strange, and very beautiful.......

1 comment:

Myris of Alexandria said...

I wonder if there be clathrates in the ice from these vents. Cannot call them white smokers already used in assoc black smokers. Blue smokers perhaps.
Any refs to this.
I suppose similar things will be seen in the outer solar system different chemistry of course.
As you say wonderfully bizarre.
I wonder if these have been seen in Iceland.
M