Ice Stalactites in Oregon Caves National Monument

November 08, 2010

IcedaggerEpod (4)

Photographer: Phil Lachman
Summary Author: Phil Lachman

Early in April this year, during our drive from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, California, my daughter and I toured the Oregon Caves National Monument in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. Almost any cave with below freezing temperatures may have entrance-zone ice formations regardless of the ambient temperature further in the cave. Cave ice can take on a variety of shapes including those that look similar to common depositional formations, such as stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and curtains. These depositional features typically are shaped from water flowing or dripping into the cave. Ice stalactites and stalagmites (icicles) develop as dripping water freezes and may grow quite rapidly when air temperatures in the cavity are below freezing. However, when air temperatures are slightly below freezing, the dripping water slowly circulates on the surface, resulting in a thickening of the ice. The dagger-like ice stalactites pictured above were almost three feet (0.9 m) long and looked as if they came from the jawbone of a Tyrannosaurus. We also noticed impressive ice curtain and ice flowstone formations. The layered patterns visible on the most obvious ice stalactites result from repeated episodes of freezing and thawing. Photo taken on April 8, 2010.

Photo details: Camera Maker: FUJIFILM; Camera Model: FinePix S7000; Focal Length: 7.8mm; Aperture: f/2.8; Exposure Time: 0.012 s (1/85); ISO equiv: 200; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No; Color Space: sRGB.