Ice Stalagmites

April 06, 2004


Provided by: Scott Ensminger, Western New York Waterfall Survey
Summary authors & editors: Scott Ensminger

These interesting ice stalagmites were photographed on February 14, 2004 in an abandoned cement mine near Akron, New York. For the stalagmites to form, a period of very low temperatures is required. The average temperature for this area during January was 17º F (- 7 C), so I felt the chances for the formation of the stalagmites was quite good. Very cold air flows into the entrance area of the mine and freezes the floor, but because the air near the ceiling is much warmer, water seeping through the roof remains liquid. However, as the water drips onto the frozen floor, it quickly freezes. In this way, the stalagmites grow drop by drop. The tallest stalagmite was perhaps 5 ft (1.6 m). A fog layer can be seen near the ceiling of the mine.

Stalagmites were only found within the first 200 ft (61 m) of the mine entrance -- deeper in, air temperature never get below freezing. About two dozen hibernating bats were observed in the deeper sections of the mine. It should be remembered that exploring abandoned mines is extremely dangerous.

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