ice hummocks-lake baikal russia-2

Hummocks Happen

So what happens to a frozen lake when it’s not cold enough to stay frozen but not hot enough to completely melt? Hummocks happen.

No, not hammocks, hummocks. These shards of crystal blue ice jut out of frozen lakes during spring and look like giant 50-foot gemstones glistening in the sun.

Here’s how it happens: as the temperature warms up, the frozen lake cracks and expands. Add blowing wind to the equation and it turns into icy bumper cars. Those pieces of ice crash into each other and break into piles of shards resting on the surface and creating hummocks.

The whole process is similar to the creation of mountain peaks when pieces of the Earth’s crust (tectonic plates) press into each other and create mountains. Sometimes one plate goes underneath another, and sometimes the collision makes both plates crack through to the surface. That collision is similar to how hummocks form.

Some of the most impressive hummocks are found in March on Lake Baikal –– the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake –– in the frozen land of Siberia. Stunning aquamarine ice sculptures in a frozen landscape of white and blue.


Sign Up