[meteorite-list] Holes in ice

From: Darren Garrison <cynapse_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 01 Mar 2007 10:14:38 -0500
Message-ID: <jcrdu25bg7t8bomgnet443m2o90gavql9r_at_4ax.com>


Do holes in ice create holes in space theory?

Published: Wednesday, February 28, 2007

In January 2001, Susan Taylor, a research scientist at the Army Corps of
Engineer?s Cold Regions Research Laboratory in Hanover, visited Frost Pond in
Dublin to investigate a mysterious hole in the ice.

Local residents asked her to come because her work on snowpack research includes
going to the South Pole to collect micro-meteorites ? and they wondered whether
the 3-foot-wide gap had been caused by incoming space debris.

Her verdict, at the time, as I reported it: Maybe.

Her verdict now, as I found when checking in again: Maybe not.

?Since then . . . I?ve heard of many more of these (mysterious holes in frozen
ponds),? Taylor said in a phone interview last week. ?I think it?s some natural
phenomenon, but I have no idea how they?re formed.?

Frequency casts doubt on the meteorite theory, Taylor said, because not many
softball-size rocks make it through the atmosphere without burning up.

You may wonder why I?m bringing up a 5-year-old story.

Because another of those mysterious holes appeared Sunday, Feb. 18, in a small
pond on Curtis Brook Road in Wilton.

?It?s very curious indeed ? there just aren?t any tracks around it,? said Nikki
Andrews, who with her husband, David, have owned the property for nine years.

By the time they spotted the foot-wide hole it had begun to freeze over, but as
you can see from the photo taken by a neighbor, it was still plainly visible.
Also visible were the lack of animal and human footprints nearby ? no beaver or
ice-fishing fan made this hole ? as well as odd ?splash marks? that stretch out
in several directions.

Andrews said the splash marks made ?slight furrows? in the snow, leading them to
guess that something had crashed through the ice from above.

?They?re definitely on top, and that?s what really surprised me,? she said.

I got all excited about meteorite possibilities when the Andrewses first
contacted Telegraph correspondent Jessie Salisbury, who contacted me, until
Taylor squelched that idea.

A little Net searching found similar stories about mystery ice holes here and
there, occasionally with real meteorites confirmed but mostly full of uninformed
speculation (which is what we reporters do best).

I couldn?t figure out who else would have expertise: hydrologists?
meteorologists? New Hampshire Fish & Game? The New Hampshire Mutual UFO Network
(maybe space aliens are abducting brook trout)?

I finally fell back on the non-Internet world?s version of Web searching ?
flipping randomly through my Rolodex ? and wound up talking with Wayne Ives of
the state Department of Environmental Services? Instream Flow Program.

Ives has spent years splashing around the Souhegan and Lamprey rivers as part of
a project to set standards on river usage, which is how I met him, so he knows
New Hampshire waters in winter. He was intrigued and puzzled, so I e-mailed him
a copy of the Andrewses? photo.

That?s when (pun alert) he threw cold water on my meteorite hopes: ?That looks
to me like a melt hole,? he said.

As Ives explained it, above-freezing water flowing into a small pond can move in
funny ways and congregate, raising the surface temperature enough to melt ice.
Evidence in favor of this idea is the small size of the pond, which was man-made
a couple of decades ago, and the fact that some of its banks are steep.

?I have seen it on small lakes ? especially where the banks are high around it
to get a good gradient from the shore ? the possibility of a lot of groundwater
coming in. In a shallow environment like that, it could overwhelm the system,?
he said.

Our weird winter contributes to the possibility, said Dr. Stephen Daly of the
Cold Regions lab.

?It was incredibly warm right up through the second week of January, with a lot
of rain, so I think the groundwater levels got really, really high for winter .
. .. An upwelling of groundwater could do this,? he said. ?The water table
around the pond might be higher than the water surface on the pond.?

This doesn?t explain splash marks, however. Here?s all I can think of: they?re
actually signs of more melting from below. The warmer water could have oozed
along cracks under the ice, partially melting the snow above those cracks from
underneath in a way that looks like they were melted from above.

The Andrewses allowed a neighbor to bore a few auger holes in the ice and poke
around in the mud at the bottom (five feet down) with a stick. Alas, no
meteorite was found, but I haven?t given up hope.

The neighbor measured the ice at the hole and found it to be 6 inches thick,
which seems a lot to be melted.

I think more investigation in needed. I wonder if The Telegraph will let me rent
a miniature submarine?
Received on Thu 01 Mar 2007 10:14:38 AM PST

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