Frozen air bubbles trapped in a lake

July 7, 2011 · 3 comments

One of those things most people don’t get to see in person. Imagine how cool it would be to take a walk here.

If you know how the bubbles manage to freeze underwater before getting out, share you thoughts in the comments.

Update: The bubbles are gas released from the lake’s bed. The lake is in Canadian Rocky Mountains.

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Andy Saxon July 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Perhaps, the bubbles froze in layers, being trapped through time under progressively thicker ice, as the water froze from the surface down.

itchy bites July 12, 2011 at 10:11 am

I found a possible explanation in a comment posted by a user on

“Temp get cold. Water freezes and produces 1/2 inch of ice. Bubbles of gas from lake bottom rise and get trapped underneath the ice layer. The next night when it gets cold again, more water freezes and ice becomes thicker forming on the ice above it but not on the bubble except at the edges. The next day, more gas bubbles up getting trapped again. Repeat over many days and night all winter long..”

Candleknight December 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

The bubble originate from the bottom of the lake and get trapped under the ice once the surface is frozen. I think the more interesting question is “Why do they form in columns like that?” Why aren’t the bubbles spread out just where ever in random patterns?
UPDATE: I think I figured it out! The gas bubbles are acting as insulators! Wherever a bubble gets stuck under the ice the heat transfers a bit more slowly than the parts where the water is in direct contact with the ice. Thus, the water adjacent to the bubble freezes faster, and thus deeper, forming a kind of ‘funnel’ that causes subsequent bubbles to rest directly under previous ones! AWESOME!

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