Answer: The image above shows curious holes in Arctic sea ice, located about 50 miles northwest of Canada’s Mackenzie River Delta. Guesses from readers included everything from ice broken by marine animals to breathe, to ice that had been thawed by methane hydrates. It’s a challenge to know the source of the features based on a photograph or satellite image alone, but several scientists offered their hypotheses in our April 21 Image of the Day.
Every month on Earth Matters, we offer a puzzling satellite or aerial image of Earth. The April 2018 puzzler is above. Your challenge is to use the comments section to tell us what we are looking at and why this place is interesting.
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Thermo image of fires in Oklahoma
What has happened here is a small hole, due to the gradual warming of a ever thinning sheet of ice floating on the surface of the ocean, has appeared.
The weight of the sheet of ice has caused pressurization of the ocean water as it relates to the hole in the ice. This Force causes the water to come up through the hole in the thinning ice. As this pressurized portion of water refreezes it creates a small circular mound of ice that resembles a volcano. This water then refreezes, as it does so Vapors are carried from the wind Laden with water. The wind moving around this appraised orifice of water will create a high and low pressure Zone. This pressure Zone would resemble a hurricane or similar to the effects of air moving over a plane wing. We are witnessing in this image the refreezing of the circulating air currents.
It is probably the Greenland whale that has broken the ice and the other animals maintain the hole.
Air/pressure vents as seen under the sea.
Perhaps it is a result of some foreign submarine, Russian or Chinese, probing the ice shelf for possible future penetration on a larger scale, to launch an attack on the North American continent, or to threaten the West with a technology that has yet to be developed by the West. It could also be an investigation by these two technologically advanced nations to explore the advent of a future Northwest passage through the ice shelf as climate warms, and then claiming the territory as a sovereign passage for the country that initiated it.
If there were tracks in the snow/ice, then possibly sea life could have taken advantage of the openings, but there appears to be little evidence of such.
Perhaps Canada, or the USA, could travel under the ice shelf and investigate the visual signs and markings of the penetrations from another viewpoint.
I`m agree with this version.
about circulating air currents.
How about this ? 3 surfacing submarines… right during ICEX2018
Saw a YouTube video of ICEX 2018. One Los Angeles Class and two Sea Wolf class fast attack subs surfacing for arctic exercises. Foot prints seem to match.?
The exercises were held in late March? Would large holes like that THNYrefreeze? Our troops were properly dressed for the elements but it looked pretty nice out for winter on the ice.
Is space debris from a meteor or asteroid, or satellite breaking up a possibility? Are there similar images to compare with? Just a thought.
Subterranean volcanic activity as in Yellowstone or Iceland?
Have meteorites Been put out of the equation
Open water holes in the ice maintained by ocean mammals so they can breathe … whales, walrus, seals etc..
Scott, You got it! The Big round holes with waves around them are the result of whales goi g through the thinner ice and smashing down. Maybe large seals as well. Semi circle would be where they did hit with as much force or on an angle.
I agree. Large animals would be the first thing I look into. A small pod of whales maintaining easy breathing areas where they feed.
To me the image looks like it shows warmer spots, what leads to the conclusion to volcanic activities under ice covered areas, maybe. Greetings from Germany and keep up the good work . yours MB
I agree with the volcanic activity theory.. with all the other activity going on and giant cracks popping up in different places it seems logical and very possible.. I’d like to see them send someone to investigate it further to know for sure what is really going on..
Geothermal Vents. Simply an underwater geyser. Look at the melt pattern and you will see the plumes formed by the rising warm water.
Can’t say it any simpler than that. We have geysers and thermal vents all over the world. Silly to think they wouldn’t be on our southernmost continent…
They kind of remind me of the photos of volcanic plumes on some of the gas giant moons.
Please tell me that infrared cameras were available for use during this flyby. Would be your telling clue.
Best of luck to the person(s) that are intrepid enough to find out.
Surface of Mars, in Infrared spectrum showing possible flow patterns in surface soil, possibly indicating water.
Terry Badger Where meteorites fell on/busted ice formations.
Concur….. meteorite break up ….. impacted…. melted surrounding ice with kinetic impact/heat….. metlted water refroze around “crater” with different visual appearance.
Or perhaps Narwhal target practice…. pinning up bullseyes on the underside of the ice.
That was my first thought assuming the ice was too thick for a mammal to break through. But my high school Geometry teacher taught me what happens when you assume things. ass-u-me
I think this was taken in the Arctic, on very thin sea ice or nilas. You can clearly see the rafting, and evidence of ridges on the left hand side. I think those holes are from seals. This may have been taken from the Icebridge 2018 campaign.
Geiser in something like Iceland?
Scars of dried river or sea. Looks like from mars.
This looks like a saline pan surface and the little pools look like localized pools that are the result of karst.
I dont know where it is, it looks like snowy or icy crust on water in winter or crus of salt on lake of salt water after rainy days(near Salt Lake City? or Death Walley?) Who knows… 🙂
This is a picture of salt lakes. The small dark spots are the lowest points, where there is still some water.
I think it is satellite imagry of atolls with the water removed.
I think these images are remnants of meteorites. As we cant tell the size in area of this picture I would guess that its something thats come from outer space.
I think also in the direction of an impact/ crash from object (chinese satelite or outher space
Sealions or seals do those holes.
Looks like a salt lake.
Late to the puzzler, but what do thawing methane hydrates releases underneath newly formed sea ice look like?
Yes, I’d like to know why this can’t be methane related.
…or a methane vent. Did they mention the depth?
Somebody should check out the coordinates and see if these three submarines are responsible.
I think your spot on Sir.
I think something that mass would crack the surface like a huge fault line
I agree with Michael that these look like impacts of meteorite fragments that came at low velocity. The heat of the fragment caused additional melting at eachsite.
This is probably too late but I have a couple suggestions/questions that may shed some light on the imagery. The darkest spot within each feature appears to be a shadow, not a hole. This would indicate a peak to the SW of each dark spot. The shadow patterns on the ripples support this assumption. The question would then be why was there an uplift of a small sheet of ice? Why not an entire line of uplift as in a mass convergent of ice sheets. I have no suggestions for the mechanics that would tilt such small blocs. A scale reference would be nice.
As to the irregular surrounding area of each hole, well these appear to be darker with a ridge marking the exterior boundary. A high resolution LIDAR would help as it might indicate a depression within the boundaries/barriers. These could similar to a sink. Again, I have no suggestion as to the mechanics of the feature, just the visual nature. The ridge/barrier defining the area might pose issues for the seal theory.
The three submarines that surfaced together In late March as part of ICEX 2018. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9mDlNBU4-z0
Holes caused by methane bubbles, similar to ones in the melting Russian tundra/permafrost
I had not seen your guess but mine is the same as yours. Methane rising brings with it warmer waters from the ocean floor.
We don’t have context for the size of the holes, but I believe it’s simply the results of a submarine practicing a well known maneuver to surface through thinner ice.. Most likely a US or Russian sub. You can go on YouTube and find many videos of this. The result is water breaching further out on the ice and then refreezing.
After looking at the surrounding area, it appears that a single meteor possibly exploded at low altitude causing what appear to be multiple impacts at varying trajectories.
I will add that if the unusual features spread further than the given frame, that the separation occurred at a higher altitude than previously thought.
These probably are caused by the escape of METHANE preserves under the ice shelf. A similar effect is being seen in Siberia and is probably going to be a worldwide phenomenon under each and every ice cap and glacier. The next step would be to sample the ice around or the gaseous emissions from the holes to test this theory.
If this is Antarctica, it appears to have some symmetry from each ‘hole’. As if something was poking up, like steeples on churches. There are 3 more ‘holes’ appearing, and the distance, between them are similar. Perhaps a drone fly by or low plane, might shed more light on this.
I believe there are warm spots coming from a volcano.
Holes are in thin ice located over thermal vents on ocean bottom.
if in the Arctic, could be methane release vents, notice 4 not yet opened spots with similar developing pattern
Artic is breathing some air.
The pictures remind me of certain features of the Channeled Scablands in eastern Washington. Namely bore holes created by swirling water. Likely some moving water beneath those holes. There are glaciers in Iceland that have holes from geothermal heat waves caused by volcanic activity.
I believe these are caused by hydro-thermal vents on the ocean floor.
These appear to be holes created by large emissions of methane gas from the bottom of the ocean, the result of global warming.
These look like the holes left behind when a submarine surfaces and stays stationed a while melting the ice around it. The peripheral cracks are from the force lifting the ice before the con tower breaks through. That is my guess without measurement info.
Obviously the three submarines that punched through the ice as part of operation ICEX 2018. Here’s video of all three submarines at the surface at the same time. Note how the conning towers forms an elliptical shape that is sharp at one end:
Operation ICEX 2018 was in the Beaufort Sea but I haven’t seen proof that the holes in the April 14 photo were made by those 3 submarines that surfaced March 21, although you’ve got the best answer I’ve read, anyway thanks for posting that interesting video .
Hot gas bubbles released from ocean floor.
Ringed seal lair.
This is easy. I climbed Mt. Rainier some years ago and at the crater rim, steam was actively escaping from seismic activity in the mountain and created small “steam craters” like this. Case solved! :0)
Might be ch4 punching through ice. The Yamal craters come to mind as does Dr Natalia Shakovas research on east Siberian shelf. Might want to put sensors for ch4 on plane.
The most likely things that come to mind would be shifting in the Earths’ crust under the ice causing new areas for volcanic activity in the area, thus melting the ice. Or (bit of a scarier thought) a localized weakening of our upper atmosphere caused by shifting geomagnetic fields, that allowed more solar radiation to break through in those particular spots.
Space junk that landed safely.
It’s a river with moving water which makes the ice go up and down.
Ice that goes up and down on a surface of water creates pressure.
Water pressure creates pressure releaving holes in thin/soft ice.
Best regards from icey Norway.
There looks to be the remnants of 3 holes that are above the holes in the picture that are in the exact same pattern. I don’t know if the ice sheet is moving but I would guess they are volcanic in nature. With these holes being formed like volcanic islands are. So I would assume there is a volcanic event below the ice.
All else being equal, the simplest explanation…. I suspect this is liquid water on top of the ice which has broken through and melted the holes at these spots. In daytime when the top ice melts, it forms a river and goes downhill, exploiting any flaw in the ice that allows flow downward. The liquid probably freezes at night, so the variable temperature has caused what appear to be indentations with the water flowing and rippling around the two larger holes, and there is another forming hole in the lower left. Hard to tell scale or what is under the ice sheet, it might be ground or the ocean.
I think these three holes were probably caused by the US and UK submarine Ice Exercises that occurred in March 2018. The USS Hartford, USS Connecticut, and HMS Trenchant were present in the exercise, and all three of them surfaced close to each other, causing their forward fins (top part) to break the ice sheet and cause these holes!
Simple, it’s from a Russian submarine practicing to rise through the ice at about the same spot.
These appear to me as what would be left over after a submarine has completed an ice breach.
as an example.
I have looked at the picture. I have read over the other suggestions. My opinion is as others have writen, but with a little bit of explanation added. The posible reason for the holes are air/gas pockets under ice added with ice flexing and the pull of the moons effect on oceans tides. The constant water flow widens the holes and even overflows onto the surrounding area. The dark areas to the left may have been older breach holes that have closed up. These holes may have also started where cracks in the ice were…the flow of water going up and down opened them up more. Lets hope its nothing major Earth just had to fart and open her pores abit.
Can they be biologic or biologically related? I don’t know the animals that live in the area, but if a whale were to die under the ice–would their body float enough to rupture the thin ice, enough residual body heat to melt a hole or thin spot, and/or enough light coming through that creates a warm spot on a black body and accelerates a hole?
These holes are the results of meteorites. The meteorites could have hit the ice surface with enough force to punch through and make these holes. And in the event that they did not pack enough energy to poke through, the dark rocks may have absorbed enough sun light and warmed up sufficiently to melt the ice around and under them.
There! What do I win?
Especially thin sections of ice where the water pressure underneath punctures a small hole, gradually opens with ongoing downward pressure from the ice and upward pressure from the water. I’ll bet there are even small geysers/sprays that cause the built-up sections around the holes as the water droplets refreshes and build-up upon falling back to the ground.
Not refreshes, refreezes. (Autocorrect)
You see a similar feature on some glaciers, albeit on a smaller scale. Dark rocks are heated by the sun during the day, holding heat and helping melt the ice around the edges. Some even spin a bit when the melted water, in conjunction with other factors (wind, gravity, shifting ice), helps shift the rock.
The rapid or gradual release of methane clathrates due to an increase in the ocean temperature. The holes have been created by something coming up from the ocean, as evidenced by the raised inner and outer circles that have accumulated blown ice and snow. There are two scenarios.
The radius of the outer circle suggests that significant force was behind the initial release (i.e. enough pressure to blow water and ice a significant distance), and the dark colour suggests that the water jetted into the air upon the release has resettled and frozen on the surface. The patterns would then have to be explained by local wind patterns.
Alternatively, the pressure could have resulted in a slow leak pushing ocean water up through the ice – where the shape of the outer ‘rings’ would be determined by the contours of the ice. In the top two holes you can see the raised dome downhill (or downwind) of the holes, produced as the pressure decreased and the water being pushed up froze closer to the hole.
In either case, the holes themselves would have been generated when the pressure from underneath stopped and the structurally compromised ice collapsed into the ocean.
I assume the seafloor underneath the ice has been mapped and would show any hydrothermal vents are too far below the surface.
The holes are produced by melt-water (or rain) on the surface finding a crack and migrating downward, gradually enlarging the crack into a hole. The trails leading to the holes are the last of the drainage.
It is not clear from the photo whether the dark areas within each “circle” are land masses or open water, but in either case, sunlight would heat the area more than the lighter ice areas around them. This could result in thinner ice, which would be more susceptible to stress cracks from movement/expansion/contraction of the surrounding ice sheet. As such, I wonder if these “circular” areas are fractured ice zones, which could also explain the ridges of taller ice around the perimeters.
The holes all seem to be very natural and organic looking; reminds me of what an animal burrow would look like if it were in the snow. These holes and the holes in Siberia have some connection. If you put cameras on them I would guess you would eventually see something going in and out of the entrance, seriously. Life is everywhere.
I believe these are breaks in the ice are caused by Whales that are passing under the ice sheet and breaking through in an effort to locate air to breath. They appear in multiply formations due to the whales traveling in pods or family groups. The individual circles expand due to the motion of the whale which creates rippling effects much like a stone tossed into a pond.
Hope this helps!
The immediate area around the holes was once open water (probably formed by an up swell of warmer water), and now it is in the process of being iced over with surface air temperature below freezing. The holes are vent holes allowing the still warmer water to flow up. The “rings” around the holes are the “bowls” containing the vented warmer water. The lines radiating from the “rings” are artifacts of warmer water overflowing the rims of the bowls, carving wiggling lines going away.
There! What do I win?
future volcanic explosion, possibly the birth of a new island……could have catastrphic results for example water displacement resulting in large wave created
This is most likely caused by methane ebullation from shallow methane gas hydrates as also witnessed on the east Siberian shelf (also only 50m depth). I currently investigate this phenomenon and area of interest. PM for more information. Here are a few references.
Those holes are likely created naturally due to the differential concentration / distribution of salt on the surface of the ice. Also, micro-topography on the ice sheet might allow further accumulation (/flow) of salty ice dust (/water) in pockets of lower elevation (/when the temperature does get closer to melting point). Just an educated guess… (Also posted on the Washington Post article.)
Frozen methane pockets are melting. Uplifting from the methane slurry causes tgese holes.
May be left by objects/debris with a low albedo that were lying on the ice surface. This is often seen on frozen Canadian lake, when a leaf is blown onto the surface; it slowly melts a leaf-shaped hole (for instance, see: http://epod.usra.edu/blog/2015/04/oak-leaf-in-lake-ice.html).
Which begs the question: what is the offending object? I have no clue. As others have noted, an on-site examination is critical.
Impact craters of Tiangong-1 satellite and debris.
The pattern looks like Gog and Magog ears. Is this a sign for humanity? Are they punching thru that hole?
Submarines breaking ice
In Amundsen’s journal during his race to the South Pole, he wrote “The ugliest formations that we have found here are huge holes that would take Fram and a lot more besides… . These holes are covered by a thin wind crust, and the little hole that is visible doesn’t seem so difficult. But if one gets into such a delightful spot, one is irrevocably lost.” (via The “Last Place on Earth”, by Roland Huntford)
Russian submarines launching their new missiles from under the ice.
That can be a dead dolphin/ shark/whale….
I agree with Marty McKimmey that a scale would be useful.
If there were a source of pressure fluctuations under the ice and if the ice froze not quite evenly seawater might break through the thinnest, weakest ice. As the area of the openings shrinks the water might be funneled more forcefully through the existing holes thereby keeping them open while the rest of the surrounding surface continues to freeze.
The pressure fluctuations might result from swells from nearby open ocean, or perhaps there is a sea floor feature that redirects a prevailing current or a MacKenzie river current upward toward this area. Turbulent flow in this current might produce the fluctuations.
Melting pools that were eventually able to drain down through the ice before a somewhat light snowfall.
Why not holes punched by meteorites? They fall all the time to the ground but mostly water (70% of earth is water). What’s not said about the image is the scale? How big are these holes?
Those are big holes… unless they were some bad ass melting acid metal diamond meteors that just cut straight throughout like butter with a plasma be a m
The black spots are the points where accumulated surface meltwater drained through the ice into the ocean. The spots could have been caused by underwater thermal vents, warmer currents, or rocks either on top of the ice or just below it that absorbed sunlight, causing faster melting in that area, or simply have been where the water began to drain first, which then widened the hole. The waves in the center-left are the remains of a much larger meltwater pool, the surface of which re-froze during windy conditions before the entire pool drained through the hole to the right.
It’s natural gas bubbling up from below.
Obviously Bowhead Whale blowholes as seen by me during my 14 years of arctic research.
I think its possibly some sort of bacteria which was dormant forever, but temperatures rose just enough for it to start breaking down whatever is in the permafrost. The slow nature of it is why the holes are oblong, whereas a sudden gas release would be more circular. Still probably producing methane because it’s a low oxygen environment.
Submarine hole from breaking through ice. One side is flat and the other side is curved which is similar to the top part of submarine. Looks like large area of ice around hole is raised up due to pressure of sub breaking through ice.
This seems to be an embarrassingly obvious mystery. Small ponds of liquid water formed on the surface of the ice, and then the sun’s rays were magnified by the thin layer of water, effectively heat-drilling down into the ice while causing the surface pond to grow due to a growing body of heated water. The noted “thin ice” is partially responsible as well, since thicker ice would prevent the heat-drilling from penetrating the ice layer if it were too thick..the water in the hole would simply refreeze over the colder, frozen night.
That’s it. No aliens or anything mysterious at all, just elementary school physics at its best. Anyone can test the idea presented here using a pie pan, some water, a freezer, a magnifying glass, and a sunny day. It’s really simple.
I think it’s the result of a meteor shards that came down and did not totally burn up in the atmosphere and hit the ice. And as a result of it being hot melted its way through the Ice and into the ocean below
I think it’s the result of a meteor shards that came down and did not totally burn up in the atmosphere and hit the ice. And as a result of it being hot melted its way through the Ice and into the ocean below
Waves hitting undersea mound surging through holes punched by the rocks at low tide. Unique because waves in the arctic are caused by melting sea ice
Why do you think they are holes?
Perhaps they are remainder ridges from local melting,. Perhaps started as high points or slight domes in the surface topo that melted differentially. Wind would do it too- is it laminar or consistant wind direction? This would explain why they are rectangular as well. Desert Stuff.
Anway, I turned the image upside down and they look like ridges.
Agreeing with the methane guesses, but possibly released from the back of a marine critter.
Are you sure they are holes? They look like ridges when yoj invert the photo. A common illusion either way.
Methane bubbles breaking through the surface.
Look like gas hydrate pingoes
These are nuclear powered missiles Russia dumped after failure. The fissile material will heat the area for many months.
I see some remnants of water pooling and concentric fringes around the openings. I also see patches or domains of wrinkled ice sheet, dominantly oriented in 10 o’clock – 4 o’clock directions (particularly prominent to the north-west side of the two holes in the center). The wrinkles on the ice sheet suggest the weakness or thin-thickness of the ice sheet there. Holes appear on the edges of the discernible ice-sheet domains, where the color is commonly darker than the surroundings, and where the ice is likely thinner.
Those holes were possibly created around the depressions or lower elevation surfaces in the micro-topography on the ice sheet. Ice sheet around the lower elevation surfaces would be slightly thinner than the higher elevation parts (assuming its isostatic state). Lower surfaces on ice would also help accumulate (salty) water above, and might contribute to further thinning of the ice. The melting temperature of a brine would be lower than that of the fresh water. Once the ice is thin enough, openings may naturally form when the temperature is closer to 32F(0C) or by marine mammals.
“Gas (or some lighter substances)” could accumulate in oval-shaped pockets beneath the ice sheet, where the ice is particularly thin, which could somehow contribute to the localized thinning of the ice there also. “Gas” could come from underwater marine mammals (such as whales) as bubbles of carbon dioxide or methane, or from (buoyant) methane hydrates.
Mapping the distribution of chemical properties of the ice, water, and gas contents (incl. their salinity) above and below the sea ice and the ice thickness across the concentric feature(s), by sending a geo-referenced, audio-visual recording capable probe or by means of remote sensing…
I think these are most likely breathing holes created by marine mammals by punching up through the thin ice with their heads. Water would also be pushed up through the hole and create the “melt pools” around each hole, which would eventually refreeze and create slight ridging along the edges. It’s difficult to say which mammal created such holes without knowing the size/scale of the photo, but likely candidates in that area would be bowhead whales or beluga if the holes are relatively large, or walrus or bearded seals if smaller. I’ve seen many similar holes in sea ice in the Bering Sea, especially in areas with high densities of walrus or bearded seals. Ringed seals are also well known for their ability to maintain holes in sea ice throughout winter; however their holes are typically very circular in shape. These holes’ oval shape leads me to believe they were created by whales rather than seals.
Clouds are acting as lenses to focus sunlight onto ice to melt holes.
Caused by a type of sporadic hydrothermal vent, eventually to be frozen over?
Appears like kind of cluster of sinkholes formation – I may call it a i-cink holes
Predator’s proving grounds
Looks like an oblique meteorite impact? A meteorite has broken up into small pieces that hit the ice at a low angle. The craters seem to have similar ejecta patterns.
I fully agree with those who says these holes are made from meteorite impacts. It is most probably something that has come in from outer space.
I agree on meteorites. The impact looks like it came from above not below.
It looks to me like holes made by submarines surfacing through the ice. Judging from the appearance of the surrounding ice, it seems likely that the ice is not very thick. The “rings” around the holes would typically stem from vaves/movement of the ice during the surfacing.
These holes in the ice are most likely a gas bubble, gas from the seabed.
this holes are such kind of karst hole made by geothermal source of hot water which is under the ice.
Looking that the small holes are part of a larger hole it can only mean theres a gass or heat sourche at this spot. There is a hole that has been freezing and has a large stripe going right.
They are the result of escaped warming (formerly frozen) methane gases.
will guess it’s underwater geysers that emit hot water or gases. 🙂
Meteorite crash site…
Meteor strikes? A small cluster hit the ice.
Looks like water erosion to me. Water flowing on top of the ice erodes the ice until a hole forms. The water drains though the holes an creates the sink like structures.
It could also nr the result from a meteor impact?
Whales! There have been caught, you can see lines / roads in the circular shape that may indicate that they have pushed their way through the softer ice! . so they can swim through the narrow road through the ice that has been forming, to get free from the ice so they can breathe and get space ect !
Submarines. No reason to make problems larger or more complicated, than they are 🙂
I agree with breathing holes. Note the darker color of the ice in the section with the holes. This looks like a fissure between two ice masses – like a river of thinner ice between them. Marine mammals searching for air would have better luck with thinner ice.
ALIENS!!!!! First it was crop-circles, now; wave-circles, lol
The holes could be caused by debris from sattelites or other debri from space. It would have been heated from entering the atmosphere and cause holes in the ice as well as heating of the surrounding ice.
I see several dark areas with a lighter edge. Dark = thinner, light = thicker ice? In some dark areas I see another smaller dark area with lighter edge. And again within these areas there is in some cases another smaller dark area with lighter edge. So I suppose these were (are) holes in the ice that froze in several stages. Some of them are already frozen completely. The longitudinal axis of the inner smallest dark areas differ in most cases from the biggest outer ones. Something to do with changing wind direction?
Could this be a rare hydrothermal vent causing these to be created?
Those are Geysers! I see very defined orifices surrounded by a large watershed pattern. If there was a Geyser there I think this is exactly how it would look like after fairly recent activity.
Meteorite or parts of some local object (satellite or something). Location next to each other suggests that are a parts of one object. Rings around holes are effect of impact, depends from size of object (bigger hole – bigger ring). Deep holes in ice from impact and high temperature of objects which burned in atmosphere.
They’re ice sinkholes caused by warmed water beneath the surface eroding & melting away the surface layers.
When water is warmed, carbon dioxide solubility decreases, releasing CO2 gas, which gets trapped under the ice, which then must escape through ice fissures, thus creating gas-vent holes.
These holes are caused by hot water being vented from the bottom of the artic ocean.
It is possible this was military exercise of a large sub penetrating the ice sheet .
The holes are caused by underground hot spring waters rising through the cold ocean and melting the ice from beneath.
My assessment of what could produce these black spots with rings in this area (50 miles northwest of Canada’s Mackenzie River Delta – from you answer) are (1) rocks sitting on the tips of undersea mounds in this shallow area poking through the ocean surface (tiny islands) heated by the sun, (2) a small tide, (3) slow freezing from a cold weather spell, and, (4) slow movement of the surrounding sea ice producing the “fingers” and the two parallel shore lines”.
I’m not sure, but this is my theory: von Karman streets.
At the location where this picture has been taken, the ice sheet is relatively thin. At the same time there probably is an undersea mountain or hill of some kind affecting the current of the lower lying, denser warmer water. The water is therefore mixed in patterns of higher turbulence in a von Karman street, and this creates this pattern, more concentrated melting at the first two intense holes whilst the hole furthest away from the undersea hill is the widest and least melted.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
These holes are formed by a Russian submarines that use the thin ice for meetings with other countries that they don’t want anyone to know about. This place is interesting because the ice is thin enough for submarines to surface through it quickly make transactions right across the ice sub to sub. Then return to a safe depth in the water without endangering the sub.
I’m NOT NASA but i Can se tracks from the thicker ICE. And out on the thinner ice everywhere. So maybee you should ask the seals:-)
Really it is interesting, i guess, soon you will see more holes in that particular area as they are creating by naturally, and guessing of it is not much hard because these hole are created by some kind of gas which is releasing from under the ice, and it may be in little large quantity for making more bigger hole, and wave and rafting are created by the pressure and temperature of that gas. And yes surprisingly it is hot…….. !
Soon will write more about it…
hot gas from deep in earth’s crust bubbling up and melting through the ice to escape into the air
Surface melt water finding it’s way through the ice, eventually draining through to the water below. Arctic Ocean? These holes are called strudel.
Remnants of submarine periscope holes?
Great place to hide a nuclear attack submarine.
It could be from wales or others hunting “fish”. Imagine that a group or pod or whatever are surrounding a large school and using bubbles to encircle them. The rising bubbles come to the surface and cause holes or breakage in the surface.
This ‘phenomenon’ is actually part of a practical joke you play on polar bears. You surround each of the holes with peas, and when a polar bear comes up to take a pea you kick him in the ice-hole!
They are boils formed by a mix of gas and water. Wish I knew what gas. Maybe just air, maybe methane, maybe carbon dioxide maybe something I haven’t considered. Mostly gas, not much water. Only one seems to have overflowed the ice dam that formed around them.
BAE systems has unveiled a high-tech laser system that allows battlefield commanders to observe enemy activities over much greater distances. The system, developed by British defense company BAE systems, uses lasers to temporarily change the Earth’s atmosphere into lens-like structures, to magnify or change the path of electromagnetic waves such as light and radio signals. This looks like a result of some experimentation of that. Imagine a huge magnifying glass at an angle and the path it would take as the earth slowly rotated.
I live in Alaska. I have seen this same type of melting nearly every year. This year it happened in my front yard just a few steps from my muddy driveway. It also happened in my backyard. The reason for my front melt was that mud splashed up from the driveway out onto the white unbroken sheet of snow and ice which was only a couple of inches thick by this time in April. The mud simply got warmer faster than the white snow and ice of the yard and melted the ice around it faster than the unbroken white areas of the rest of the yard. In my backyard, the issue was not the mud, but my dog Diamond who had defecated in several areas. The darker defecation again got warm in the sun and melted through to the darker ground below and the area appeared to grow each day. It is just a matter of the sunlight being adsorbed and heating dark things faster than it does white things. The most likely cause of the holes you see on that ice sheet is animal defecation. This answers an age-old Inupiaq puzzle. Where does a polar bear xxxx? (not a nice word for defecation). The answer? Anywhere it wants to.
OK. Here it goes…
The holes were created by pockets of trappped, warm air/ gas that was previously under the ice for a very long time. The pockets warmed up and found the path of least resistance— upward. The holes in the ice and the ‘drifts’ around them, seem to fit into a ‘Pangea-like’ configuration— along with the large break in the ice on the right, which has frozen over. It suggests the thin areas have drifted apart over time. It seems to have taken a long time for the holes to take shape and it looks like many snowy seasons have passed since the large crack in the ice on the right took shape. The pockets of air have been trapped under the ice for a very long time. Guessing the sense of scale, I assume the photo was taken from a relatively high altitude, from an airplane making a passage to or from Antarctica during a warmer season. The shadows do not appear to be particularly long, so the sun is mostly overhead. Antarctic Summer gets the most light, so this may be Antarctic Fall or Summer.
Can I have a job, NASA?
It looks similar to the same formation as a recent photo of a surfacing of 3 submarines.
I don’t know if the location and timing correspond.
It’s a large meteor
The military recently conducted an excercise in the Beaufort Sea where three submarines surfaced through the ice. See the article at this link: https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1464840/arctic-deployed-navy-submarines-participate-in-ice-exercise-2018/
Undersea volcanic/thermal plumes
The Chinese space station crashed into the earth’s atmosphere, broke apart and scattered its contents. Some packages of kung pao chicken and szechuan beef survived the fall and came to rest on the ice surface. Sadly, the food didn’t survive the hungry seals and whales that broke through the ice to attend the yummy feast.
In Konrad Maurer’s research on Icelandic lore (1855), he addresses similar phenomena that the Icelanders seemed to understand and explain as follows in my translation of his book, “Icelandic Folklore in the 19th Century”:
“Chapter 3. Water Spirits
The Icelandic folktales tell of water spirits in the richest diversity and definitely allow one to order them genetically with elves. Even in current times, they both endure in various recognizable strains. We have already seen previously that when the elves venture out to fish, the fishermen believe their own generous yields will follow shortly thereafter. Another circumstance also shows a closer relationship of man to the water spirits: when holes in the sea ice result from air bubbles rising through them, people believe it is the work of elves and so they call these holes “álfavakir” or elf holes.”
…and then goes on to another similar phenomenon with:
“…At various places throughout Iceland people point to so-called tvíbytnur or bottomless bays and fjords that are said to connect below the earth with the deepest ocean or with other bays. For example, on the bottom of the Þorskafjörd is the Kólúngvakir, or Mussel Hole, and the Kóngavakir, or King´s Hole. Where the bay is otherwise so shallow that one can walk or ride across it on horseback at low tide, these places are so deep as to be bottomless. People have used a sinkline and have not reached the bottom even at 120 fathoms. These places seldom or are late to freeze over, as the expressions vök and vakir (ice holes) in the names indicate.
Additionally, it is said that there are subterranean connections between the Þorskafjörd and the Ísafjörd with the result that the water levels in both bays are always the same. A stone flounder that was caught in the Ísafjörd but tore loose from the line was recaught in the Þorskafjörd, still trailing the lost lure hooked in its mouth.”
Had the photo been taken at the right time about a few weeks earlier, we would be seeing a group of giggling NOAA scientists walking away, congratulating themselves on a well-played April Fool practical joke.
Russian submarine antenna holes.
I wish I knew what the scale is.
My guess is methane.
I’d guess parts of meteors sinking into the ice heating up some part of the surface while at it.
Part of the Russian space station landed unexpectedly at this location. They were quite hot when they landed. The nearly closed circle is the smallest piece and the heavier one are still open.
Submarines surfaced,circle iis from the push through.and the hole is from the tower
How about ponds of slightly extra-saline water, being a little heavier, boring through the ice with a slightly spinning circulation caused by wind? This is top down model.
My first impression of the holes is that they have formed as the result of melting gas hydrates bubbling to the surface.
Leaking gas, probably methane
I’m going to guess that the holes in the thin ice was due to melting caused by an upwelling of warmer waters due to methane releases from the sea floor.
CHASING THE BLUE…..IMHO It rained or got so warm the snow/ice melted. Enough water drained into the 3 low points before refreezing that it accumulated deep enough to scatter sunlight and turn it blue. Just as the sky does. The darker colour absorbed more and more heat from sunlight and the surrounding ice insulates it. Through this process the holes go deeper and deeper. Its happening all over the polar regions and the pools can cleave the ice either through their own weight or by refreezing. With this process plus with the buttressing ice shelves and glaciers collapsing, ice sheets will slip off land way way faster than most are expecting
Holes from Meteorite ?
I believe the holes are caused by methane plumes.
Whales expelling water through their blow holes below the Arctic ice sheet 🙂
Some hot gaz bubbles due to seismic activity underneath ?
I’m guessing they are a result of some sort of debris which landed on the ice and changed its reflectivity, made it melt faster than the ice around it.
This could have been the wintering grounds of the Spectacled Eider (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectacled_eider), which spends the winter in the artic or Berring sea. They group together and maintain a zone of non-frozen water despite the artic temperatures. Note that it also seems there was a forth area, but frozen over.
Looks like warm meteoroid fractures melted the ice and created these small pools like shapes
Thermal upwelling from an underwater volcano. There must be multiple columns of heated water rising from the ocean floor from fissures in the ocean floor
Looks like the face of God crying…we’re doing wrong. Go green.
I think it may be a meteor that on its way to the eath has been broken into tree and made the tree holes
I think that is is also caused by some sort of meteorite.? cause if you look closely then it show like something struck down through the thick ice, and made like a “bomb a like” hole and caving around it.
Could be the beginning of an underwater volcano That might be erupting
Depending on seadepth it could perhaps be stranded whales ?
Could it be from a vulcano beneath the ice, making its apperance ?
It could be a submarine.
If the whole area is considered, it may be seen that the ice has been pierced (mountain back).
The 3 holes have can be nose, tower and tail from the submarine, here the ice has not “fall into place”. Several other things also indiDTcate that a submarine has been around.
It certainly looks like some small fragments from space or some meteors have hit the ice. The heat which comes from the fragments/meteors in combination with the weather could be the reason how the holes has formed in the snow/ice.
As others have already stated, it’s likely from submarines.
The holes are created by a subsurface volcano or volcanos, giving off super heated steam which penetrates the ice and is trapped in the ice as a bubble creating a cavity which works its way to the surface and emerges as a slightly different and warmer lighter liquid than the surrounding ice (like a boil) The super heated subsurface ice re crystalizes to a slightly different molecular make up and is forced and held internally within the surrounding ice. Because the molecular change that occurred this .allows it to be drawn to the surface
What about impacts of debris from the Chinese station reentry beginning of April ?
Nuclear submarines. Period. That’s exactly the shape left by a nuclear submarine emerging from water.
Release of methane hydrates following the recent warming in the Arctic.
One meteorite split in three parts just before crashing.
This explains the similarly oriented ellipse shaped holes and the shock induced wave patterns.
plane destroyed or space ship. three points , wings and pilot cocpit in rectangle and aircraft tail , very symmetrical 3 points . in my opinion: outline of flying machine
everyone has made amazing comments, i was thinking who knows it could be holes made by people living there to catch fish.
These are meteorite holes or holes made by space debris.
The impacts look like very small but high velocity items that have punched clean through the ice with minimal or no splash.
As these very small items plunge into the water below they will create cavitation in their wake, this cavitation will generate pressure disturbances in the body of the seawater and some waves at the surface radiating outwards from the point of impact
As the ice sheet has flexed with the waves from the impact, water from below has flowed up / been drawn up through the hole and has pushed the snow on top of the ice sheet outwards from the hole where it has left a “tide mark”.
The water has then drained slowly back down through the hole.
All that remains is a small how in the ice surrounded by an area of snow free ice and a tide mark at the periphery of the feature.
It’s obvious that these are impact holes from a asteroid that was very large and very hot. The holes show the trajectory of the pieces and the reaction of the ice.
Must have been cool to see.
is the outlet of a hot spring source by volcanic activity in the south pole
I am not going to read all of the responses, but I am sure someone has said this same thing more than once.
I believe these are the impact sites of meteorites or even pieces of the Chinese satellite that crashed to earth. They would have come in from similar angles and very hot. After impact, the residual heat of the object would have created a pool of melted ice around the impact site which would have then cooled separately creating different densities and temperatures of freezing ice and creating the image of a ring around the impact site.
Maybe created by leftovers from meteorites?
Probably deep sea thermal vents.
The holes in this picture seems to me to come from the outside rather than from within. The more so, because to judge from the picture, the space around the holes seem to have a wave effect, like you can observe in the landscape, for example at Meteor Crater in Arizona. Perhaps it comes from falling debris from a down coming satellite in this case?
Perhaps they were formed by some volcanic eruption under the sea and the heat from the volcano has melted the ice and will keep it melted until it stops erupting, if enough lava comes out, one never knows, a new land may be formed, just a thought.
There’s a possibility of course that some debris from outer space has crashed there, there is no indication as to how big the holes are. Will be interesting to see if they close up again and how soon.
It’s rocks from outer space, landing on the ice.
Space debris from Tiangong 1 or another man-made satellite?
Gas blow out. Probably methane.
Los agujeros pueden ser el resultado de impactos de basura espacial que cayeron en el lugar.
The ice conditions including the holes in the ice and bulls-eye effect around them are a result of surface water drainage. The holes may have been started naturally (by shallow rocks or seals), or, perhaps from ice fisherman cutting a hole. Since ice is rarely flat, water that ponds on the surface will drain to the holes and the holes grow larger (the warmer water melts the edges of the hole making it larger). The outer bulls-eye is where the water was before it drained. This can all be replicated at a smaller scale on a frozen pond with recent snow melt or rain.
–Im a ice fisherman. I caused this to happen once and almost lost a friend who almost slipped into my old auger hole, which had gotten man-size after a rain event.
These are Gas Bubbles of whale farts that worked their way through the ice until they escaped into the atmosphere. After a while, the hole will close again, as the photos shows in the pattern bottom left of the holes, that looks like a previously open hole.
Lol… That’s great
They are locations where something dark in color fell on, or was placed, the ice. Then the sun heated the darker material more than the reflective snow colored ice, and caused localized warming and subsequent melting of the ice at those locations.
Military satellites testing space laser technology fired down at the ice. I’d take off my tinfoil hat but it’s permanently fused to my head.
Tinfoil makes it worse guy,… lol
Particles from meteorite or satellite fell on the ice and the sun warmed the stone until they melted through the ice.
The warm water made this little puddle around the hole before they went through.
Ok, whats goin on here is holes were punched in the atmosphere which let a bunch of charged particles in like a kid burning ants. Accept its ice. I can bet the holes appearance coincides either a bunch of rockets punching holes in the protective atmosphere or a solar event that warped the earths magnetic field lines sending particles through the ice heating it up. So while u all are looking down i would send some of those planes takin pics directly above them holes with some equipment capable of measuring field distortions or microwaves.
Looks like 4 meteor drops. 3 of them melted trough the ice.
It’s the holes left behind from U.S. Navy submarines breaking through the ice during ICEX 2018, an Arctic exercise conducted in the Beaufort Sea at Camp Skate. Nothing mysterious here!
Dude… the ice is really thick.. I don’t think so
thermokarst lakes ?
Maybe the holes are due to dark-colored garbage that soak up solar heat and melt the surrounding ice. The dark water in the initial hole then soaks up more heat, expanding the hole somewhat.
Dora (Nemo’s friend), after taking directions from a local whale, managed to pop her head out of the ice and said “I am supposed to go south. There’s the sun. I am going to head left of that.”. She dove back down under the ice.
Five minutes later, she made her way up through the icesheet. “I am supposed to go west. Now where is the sun?…There! Turn right”. And down she went.
Another 3 minutes went by, Dora again popped up: “North….I have to go north….let’s see…That way!”
…and so she went for 3 more attempts.
What happened subsequently, I really don’t know.
I think the holes in the article ice were caused by falling space junk
Its pretty obvious.
An earthquake has released trapped gases, which have found the weakest parts of the ice sheet, escaping to the surface. The surrounding rings are just snow drift.
Perhaps where a large mammal died and has since decayed.
The heating of the carcass while still intact could cause irregular freeze/thaw over x years…
Bacteria warming.. Or space spiders
I knew that maybe too many repeated answers and some are quite good and my answer may be have repeated. But now I am going to guess that it might be Alien making these holes. because there are alien bases under Artic sea
This is certainly methane-related activity. Support the Pleistocene Park Foundation Effort to mitigate such releases before it is too late.
By preserving permafrost one can mitigate such events. Yes, Mackenzie River brings too much warm water to the sea.
I’m betting on breathing holes for Beluga Whales. That ice is thick and it likely took a large animal to break through. Additionally, the area around the holes is undisturbed so it was likely an animal that spends all of it’s time in the water. It looks like liquid water has pooled on the surface around the holes, which could have been caused by a brief thaw, which could explain the ring pattern. I have seen something similar while ice fishing when a hole is bored in the ice and then a brief thaw occurs afterwards, liquid water pools around these holes, and then can freeze again when the air temperature drops at night. If the conditions are just right, this process can occur more than once and can leave some interesting patterns in the ice. It could also be from a large animal or a large group of animals that crawled on top of the ice around the hole. The pressure from the weight could have forced the water to rise and pool around the holes, but the area around the holes seems relatively undisturbed, so I’m leaning on some sort of unseasonable thawing process. Belugas prefer estuaries during the summer, so they seem to be arriving a little early this year; perhaps because they are confused by differentiated weather patterns due to climate change. Just some food for thought from an amateur scientist.
Why can’t this be a meteor impact, breaking up into the pieces and plummeting through the ice.
Anybody see where the Chinese space lab landed! On a serious note I think it is either a meteorite coming down and breaking up in to a couple pieces.
I think it’s very reminiscent of the craters from the fall of some debris which burned through the surface. In outline it seems that the fall was at low speed.
The cracks in the ice caps are sink holes due to global warming. They can be termed as ice pits given the lack of detail in the structures. Arctic sink holes cannot be defined as geographical features but do not merit much investigation. The heat drop in each sink hole is not much to be treated as a scientific problem. What needs to be investigated is whether global warming is indeed a phenomenon that can qualify as a mishap. If not where is the need for multi nation protocols.
Gas from the bottom of the sea.
At the left in the picture we see a new “hole” developing from gas, an has warme the ice surface
but there is not a hole, yet.
Definitively, not made by animals.
Space junk after entering atmosphere and heating up then melting the ice?
Possible volcanic activity
I agree with some of the other suggestions. There may be a geyser-type release of heated gas or water coming from beneath the ice and pushing water upward at that temperature, which is created a small, distinct hole and pooling where the water is refreezing. Two further questions come to mind, though. Wouldn’t there need to be quite a bit of pressure to make such a precise hole from below? I feel any animal or impact would otherwise be messy. Also, if it were warm enough to create a hole from below, but immediately refroze in a wave-like pattern, the freezing time is escalated somehow, is it not? My mind keeps going to a science experiment I saw on youtube where someone said they added sodium acetate to hot water, let it cool, then added dry ice and it almost immediately froze. Similar scenario? Different chemicals?
I believe that a meteorite or discarded space debris broke apart after entering the Earth’s atmosphere and the 3 most prominent pieces created the holes and surface features we are seeing in the NASA image. The force of the impacts were enough to cause the rifting and circular “craters” around each impact zone. That’s it, plain and simple.
Earth’s magnetic fluctuations caused a ruptures in atmospheric fabric allowing strong solar light penetrate the atmosphere and hit the ice allowing it to melt. Natural magnifying glass over sun….
I have the same thing happened to me just on a way smaller scale but with the same concept
that you would see in a meltdown squishy or icee slushy with the suction of the weight from the mass of earth circulation So it’s probably pinned pointed the sun with a magnifying glass maybe from some reflection from ice glass… possibly.. I think it’s going to implode on it’s self and make on gigantic sink slush hole… some where those pockets of air underneath the near bottom of the ice block is heating up extremely so there’s probably magma flowing through the bedrock punctured and caused high intense steam to blast through the top from the bottom… So it’s not from surface damage it’s from earth trying to release pressure. That’s my theory or hypnosis.
Great post really thanks for sharing
Colonies of bacteria.
For me rather higly possible hits of meteorites. Only they hit the ground under strong angle. So drops are not Perfect circular. Area around looks like sligtly melted on surface so it gives idication to possible high temerature and evaporation of snow and ice around for maybe very short time. So my first syuggestion- a few meteorites with relatvely slow speed. Tomasz
I would say it is most likely undersea volcanic activity. With so much unusual volcanic activity in the world, it would just make sense.