Montana Outdoors

November 19, 2014

Galaxies in the ice: an update

Filed under: Winter — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 1:19 pm

After some research on the bubbles in the ice I found that the bubbles are formed when plants on the pond bottom release methane gas and the bubbles freeze when they reach the cold surface of the pond, with further bubbles stacking up below. The ice on the pond in which these bubbles are frozen is 6″ to 12″ thick.

Methane bubbles frozen in ice

Methane bubbles frozen in ice

Methane bubbles frozen in ice

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44 Comments »

  1. How amazing! Love this and your previous photos. It has suddenly got very cold down your way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jo Woolf — November 19, 2014 @ 1:27 pm

    • It really did for about a week and a half. That usually happens every year, but normally in February.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 19, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

  2. These are really “cool” photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — November 19, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

    • “Cool” they were! I’m glad that the ice held up!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 19, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

  3. So interesting and unusual in my world…

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mother Hen — November 19, 2014 @ 1:39 pm

    • I had not noticed this phenomenon before, perhaps because pond ice hasn’t been as clear as it is now.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 19, 2014 @ 7:46 pm

  4. Amazing nature!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Dana S. Hugh — November 19, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

  5. Very Nice! I like to photograph these, but I never saw the depth you have here!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Reed Andariese — November 19, 2014 @ 2:29 pm

    • I found more today in another pond. The ice was much cleared but not nearly as thick, and the bubbles had a much different look to them.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 19, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

  6. Stunning mother nature!

    Like

    Comment by Lucy — November 19, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

    • Nature’s beauty is always around some place, if you happen to wander into it!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — November 19, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

  7. Hi Montucky, How unique! I do not think I have seen ice like that – even on the lake or the pond we lived on in TN. Have a wonderful day tomorrow!

    Like

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — November 19, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

    • I don’t know if it is rare or simply normally overlooked.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 19, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

  8. Thanks for updating us about how these are formed! Beautiful and interesting! 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Jane — November 19, 2014 @ 5:23 pm

    • Yes. I had not thought about methane gas, and didn’t know that it would behave that way either.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 19, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

  9. Thanks for sharing this background to those interesting bubbles. It still fascinates me. I don’t remember seeing any frozen rivers or ponds when I lived in the UK and skied in Austria in the 70s.

    Like

    Comment by Vicki — November 19, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

    • When I was a kid I used to skate and play hockey on just about every pond within miles, yet never noticed this kind of thing.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 19, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

  10. How interesting…beautiful and interesting! Thanks

    Like

    Comment by Beth — November 19, 2014 @ 7:27 pm

    • Makes me wonder how many other interesting thing I’ve been overlooking all these years! I’m sure there are lots!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 19, 2014 @ 7:53 pm

  11. Although we have water, snow and ice, I never have seen anything like these. Gorgeous photos.

    Like

    Comment by Sartenada — November 20, 2014 @ 3:20 am

    • I don’t remember seeing this kind of thing before either. They don’t appear on most of the ponds around and I visited one large pond yesterday that had some of the bubbles only in a small area. A little snow or frozen rain on the ice would hide them.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 20, 2014 @ 9:19 am

  12. Amazing! Love it.

    Like

    Comment by 2ndhalfolife — November 20, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

    • Probably not exactly rare. Today I was looking for more of these and was able to see a turtle beneath the ice. Seemed to be active and doing fine.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 20, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

  13. Your last post and this are beautiful examples of how nature mirrors the universe “out there.” Love these. I feel blessed by seeing them.

    Like

    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — November 20, 2014 @ 4:58 pm

    • They are fascinating to see in the ice. Photos don’t show the depth that the eye sees.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 20, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

  14. That’s interesting stuff. I never thought of methane bubbles. Boy it must be really cold there for the ice to be that thick this early! We’ve had cold but nothing like that yet.

    Like

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — November 20, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

    • I was surprised at the thickness of the ice on the beaver pond, and then even more surprised later to see that the ice on another pond was only in the range of 4 to 5 inches. I wonder if the fact that the beaver pond had flowing water beneath it and the other pond is spring fed, and if so, how that works.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 20, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

  15. That’s very interesting. I’ve not seen that either although I wouldn’t have much opportunity to do wo.

    Like

    Comment by Candace — November 20, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

    • Maybe up by Springerville! I had not seen that anywhere in Arizona either, or here for that matter. I either missed it or it was usually hidden by snow on the ice. The ice has to be very clear (and thick) for it to show up.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 20, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

  16. thank you for researching as to why the bubbles pile up one on top of the other! I LOVE your photos!

    Like

    Comment by Tammie — November 20, 2014 @ 9:31 pm

    • The first of these three photos came from a different pond where the ice was especially clear and not as thick as on the beaver pond. I’m tempted to skate on it but I hate to mark up that smooth ice!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 20, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

  17. I’ll be darned. Now that I’ve seen these photos, and you’ve explained about the methane, I know exactly where I’ve seen such bubbles before — underwater, after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Companies working to repair the well put live streams from their submersibles (ROVs) online, and I spent way too many hours watching the feeds and participating in one forum where the scientific/oil sorts explained a lot of what was happening.

    In any event, methane bubbles and the formation of hydrates were hot topics. A lot of the footage still is around. Some videos really are amusing, now. I saw this little event live — trying to use a circular saw and ending up just like we all have at one time or another. Now that I think of it, those stacked bubbles do look rather like saw blades.

    Like

    Comment by shoreacres — November 21, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

    • That circular saw video was hilarious. Up here, that would be referred to as a “goat ropin’.”

      I’ll probably never get around to figuring it all out, but the bubble phenomena in the ice probably has a lot of different facets to it. I noticed that the bubbles in the thinner ice did look a lot like circular saw blades, but the ones in the thick ice were more spherical. I’m not sure finding out why that happens would be worth the effort of doing it.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 21, 2014 @ 9:51 pm

      • Believe it or not, here in Texas we have a saying: “Goat ropers need love, too.”

        Like

        Comment by shoreacres — November 21, 2014 @ 9:56 pm

        • I’ve heard that here too. I think a lot of the cowboy language and idioms are universal.

          Like

          Comment by montucky — November 21, 2014 @ 10:04 pm

  18. That is amazing, great images!

    Like

    Comment by Boyd Greene Fine Art — November 21, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

    • It was very interesting! The first photo is from a pond where the ice was incredibly clear. Kind of fun to shoot, but cold!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — November 21, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

  19. They look like stacks of coins, so no one will say you got shortchanged.

    Like

    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — November 29, 2014 @ 10:16 am

    • True, Steve. About the only thing these days that’s stacked that doesn’t cost a fortune.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — November 30, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

  20. These are fascinating! Thanks for doing the research on them and filling us in on how they’re made. So ‘cool!’

    Like

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — December 5, 2014 @ 8:50 am

    • Still not sure I understand the physics of the methane bubbles: it’s something to think about.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — December 5, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

  21. Very cool photos!

    Like

    Comment by Watching Seasons — December 11, 2014 @ 2:56 pm


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