Ribbons of ice emerging from the ground

After a night-time low of 20°F, we found these little ribbons of ice growing out of a cut in a slope.


The slope is like a road-cut, made when the place for the barn was bulldozed out before we came here. The exposed soil is so poor (mostly decomposed rock, really), and the summers so hot, that the slope remains raw. It appears that the ice results when water trickles down the hill through the coarse soil and then, under cold conditions, oozes out when it comes to the cut.

In some places, I think the water or ice has forced apart bits of soil producing a filigree-like pattern. The outer surface of the pattern is often frosted with ice.


In the darker areas of the picture above, you can see the sandy soil shadowed by the raised lacy structure. The structure is, I think, made of ice, and of soil pushed up and out by ice expanding as it reaches the cold air (my theory!).