‘Ice Volcanoes’ Are Erupting On A Michigan Beach

The forces of nature are truly something to marvel at. On the 16th of February, there was an eruption of “ice volcanoes” on a Lake Michigan Beach located in Saugatuck, Michigan.

This is an incredible phenomenon that occurs as a result of building pressure from waves of water being pushed beneath an ice sheet. Similar to the way lava builds up, the water pressure becomes too much that it seeks an outlet – causing an “eruption” through holes within the ice.

The National Weather Service Grand Rapids managed to capture some images of the fascinating event featuring the Oval Beach ice volcanoes. They were quickly posted to Twitter.

Alongside the photos of the frigid explosion, they tweeted, “You never know what you’ll find at the lake until you go out there. Today it was volcanoes.”

Absolutely amazing!

While these “ice volcanoes” may not spew out molten rock and hot lava sky-high from under the Earth’s surface, they are still a very cool thing to witness.

Besides the ice volcanoes of Earth, our universe is home to real ice volcanoes called cryovolcanoes. These volcanoes are known to eject super-chilled plumes of magma made of water, ammonia, or methane. Cryovolcanoes occur on Pluto, Saturn’s moon Titan, as well as Ceres, the dwarf planet.

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But the ones captured on camera by NWS are much smaller-scale occurrences that are common in the region of the North American Great Lakes.

Here’s a wider photo by NWS showing several of the ice volcanoes erupting:

The accompanying tweet said, “It was a great day to visit the beach and watch the waves interact with the ice. Here’s a couple of ‘ice volcanoes’ erupting at Oval Beach on Sunday, February 16, 2020.”

Tim Niziol, a winter weather expert for The Weather Channel, was blown away by the pictures and referred to them as “some of the best photos of ice volcanoes I have seen” in a Facebook post.

He wrote, “They form as water is pushed under the ice sheet and as the pressure builds up the water shoots out through holes in the ice. If it’s very cold, then that spray freezes up eventually building a cone like the ones we see here. They can be very dangerous to climb on however because they are hollow and built over that hole in the ice. Don’t ever go out venturing onto them!!”

The Michigan Technological University went into depth discussing the erupting ice volcanoes – explaining that their cone sizes range from as small as less than a meter to bigger than eight meters in elevation – that measurement being from base to peak. Ice volcanoes are a common occurrence during winter and can be found along the north shore of Lake Superior – where they most likely form as a result of high winds onshore that come from snow squalls and other regional storms.

As if we needed another reminder of just how incredible nature can be – these things are so cool!

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