Encore - Ice Patterns on Oak Creek

May 25, 2019

Ice Study (2)

Today and every Saturday Earth Science Picture of the Day invites you to rediscover favorites from the past. Saturday posts feature an EPOD that was chosen by viewers like you in our monthly Viewers' Choice polls. Join us as we look back at these intriguing and captivating images.

Photographer: Loren Haury
Summary Authors: Loren Haury; Jim Foster

September 2013 Viewer's Choice Oak Creek runs past our home in Sedona, Arizona. After almost 4 in (10 cm) of rain in early January 2005, the creek had risen several feet. A few days after the rain, most of the water had receded except for pools remaining in the streambed outside the creek’s normal channel. The minimum temperature on January 13 was 21 F (-6 C). Through the night, slowly falling temperature gradually froze the water in the pools. Ice formed inward from the outside edges of the pools, where the water was a bit shallower. The result was the myriad of crystalline and amorphous curved forms shown above.

When liquid water passes over a rocky stream bed, the flow is diverted by the stones and rocks within the bed. This action forms small shock waves that often exhibit interference, sometimes forming banded or feathery patterns. When the water begins to freeze over the larger disturbances are preserved as patterns in the ice. I spent much of the morning photographing these beautiful patterns. The ice feathers radiating from the dark-colored rock at the lower left are about 3 in (7.5 cm) long. By noon all of the ice in the pools had melted. Photo taken on January 13, 2005.

Photo Details: Camera: OLYMPUS X-3,C-60Z; Focal Length: 18.83mm; Aperture: f/4.5; Exposure Time: 0.013 s (1/80); ISO equiv: 80; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS5 Macintosh.