Ice wedge

Alternative definitions (4), class: vernacular (0)
Term: Ice wedge
Definition: Wedge-shaped, ice body composed of vertically oriented ground ice that extends into the top of a permafrost layer. These features are approximately 2 to 3 meters wide at their top and extend into the soil about 8 to 10 meters. Form in cracks that develop in the soil during winter because of thermal contraction. In the spring, these cracks fill with liquid water from melting snow which subsequently re-freezes. The freezing process causes the water to expand in volume increasing the size and depth of the crack. The now large crack fills with more liquid water and again it freezes causing the crack to enlarge.This process continues for many cycles until the ice wedge reaches its maximum size.
Created 2022.03.08
Last Modified 2023.03.27
Contributed by GCW Glossary