The mystery of the frozen pond

Strange circular markings have appeared in a fozen pond in upstate New York. There are a couple of posisble explanations:

(Fox sorry) — Intriguing circular formations are known to occur throughout the natural world during seasonal freeze and thaw cycles. In areas of permafrost (like the northern Canadian tundra), the expansion of ice beneath the soil surface — a process called frost heaving — creates raised landforms called lithalsas. Lithalsas often form circular or ring-shaped patterns on the surface.Frost heaving also creates a related landform called a pingo. Over many years, pingos can grow into small, circular hills: The tallest known pingo is the Kadleroshilik Pingo in Alaska, which reaches 178 feet in height.

It’s not the best picture to judge from, but it does not resemble any frost heaving I’ve ever seen. It also doesn’t look like the markings an alien race that presumably traveled light years would leave behind, which, yes, is another explanation making the rounds (I tried to include the image, but as many of you know, computers and the software that runs them grow less capable and more confusing every year, posting the image was not possible). It looks like a human prank and of course that’s what it is.


  1. Ben P says

    It looks like a human prank and of course that’s what it is.

    The “warm water” explanation sounds pretty reasonable to me. We had something not dissimilar in a pond where I lived as a child, although it was one circle and not several. There was a water discharge pipe from some agricultural operation which (for some reason) had its mouth placed under water. (the pond was low compared to the surrounding land, so I can see how it would still function).

    Every year when the pond froze, the discharge water was enough warmer than the pond water that there’d be a circular-ish hole in the ice where the end of the discharge pipe was. It didn’t look quite like that, but was similar. you’d see a completely frozen pond with about a 15 foot circle unfrozen in the middle.

  2. BaisBlackfingers says

    It’s a frozen pond? Warm water is plausible, but in the absence of a current or other agitation, anything dissolving underneath should make a roughly spherical freezing point gradient. If the ambient temperature is borderline freezing, why not expect roughly circular holes in surface ice to result?

  3. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Warmer water inlet or inlets, causing open water or thinner ice above the inlet:

    is at a pond near a ski area that stores water for the snow making. The hole is pretty raggedy right now, because a foot or more of snow is melting off it, but it’s a constant feature except after heavy snowfalls.

    The round spot is directly above where the meltwater from the slopes enters the catch pond.

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Fox sorry

    I thought it was just Fox “news” but good to hear they are labeling themselves better these days!

    Looks like someones supersized one of those scone maker / cookie cuter metal circles and had fun with it.


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