Ice Formations

I’m fascinated by ice.  Did you know that there are physicists who freeze water under varying conditions, just to see what formations they come up with?  They apply their results, then, to ice found in the earth’s colder regions–to make hypotheses about previous conditions–much like a dendrologist would do by studying tree rings.

In 1998, I was privileged to be a part of the Teachers Experiencing Antarctica program.  My responsibilities involved aiding a research team from Bozeman, Montana, in their “life in the ice” research, and e-mailing this “in the field” experience to my students back home, whenever I could.  [See the picture above?  We were sampling algae growing in the pockets of ice.  How did those flakes get there?  What nutrients could possibly be existent for them to grow?  After all, they’re growing in icein Antarctica!]  It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I was in the Dry Valleys (and at McMurdo Station) for five weeks.

So, a couple of weeks ago, when Dan and I noticed that our old stable had a funny looking roof to it, we decided to investigate.

It looks a little like a long, curling toenail, doesn’t it?  Okay, that wasn’t a pretty mind-picture…but it does!

Here’s what it looks like up close.

And closer still.

You can see the imprint of the roof’s corrugation.  Looks are deceiving, though.  Even though that massive formation looks like soft snow that could chunk off at any time, it’s as hard as a rock.  The snow must have melted in stages, shifted slowly off the edge…and refrozen.  [That last word looks wrong to me, but I think it’s right.  Who says ‘refrozen?’]

Amazing, huh?

[Post image: Sediment in Antarctic ice, taken November 1998 on Teachers Experiencing Antarctica trip]

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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