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Pingos - Rare Periglacial Landform

Pingos - Rare Periglacial Landform
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 1994-08
Categories: River
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Geological Wonders [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-08-22 8:38
Viewed: 13319
Points: 38
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This is not a particularly good Photograph - a scannned slide taken through a thick airplane window. It does show 2 70m Pingos - the downfall of 'A' Level Geography Students - when marking A Level papers, many of them thought they were ice volcanoes and drew diagrams of them throwing out blocks of ice!!

A pingo is a mound of earth-covered ice found in the Arctic, subarctic, and Antarctica that can reach up to 70 metres in height and up to 2 kilometres in diameter. The term originated as the Inuit word for a small hill. The plural is 'pingos'. Pingos are periglacial landforms, that is defined as a nonglacial landform or process linked to colder climates.

Pingos can only form in a permafrost environment. Evidence of collapsed pingos (ognip) in an area suggests that there was once permafrost.

Pingos usually grow only a few centimetres per year and the largest take decades or even centuries to form. The process that creates pingos is believed to be closely related to frost heaving.

Pingos are generally classified as hydrostatic (that is closed-system) or hydraulic (open-system). Hydrostatic-system pingos form as a result of hydrostatic pressure on water from permafrost, and commonly form in drained lakes or river channels. Permafrost rises to the drained body's former floor. Pore water is expelled in front of the rising permafrost, and the resulting pressure causes the frozen ground to rise and an ice core to form. The shape and size of a hydrostatic or closed system pingo is often similar to the body of water that it originated from. They can vary from symmetrical conical domes to asymmetric, elongate hills.

Hydraulic-system pingos result from water flowing from an outside source, subpermafrost or intrapermafrost aquifers. Hydrostatic pressure initializes the formation of the ice core as water is pushed up and subsequently freezes. Open-system pingos have no limitations to the amount of water available unless the aquifers freeze. They often occur at the base of slopes and are commonly known as Greenland type. The groundwater is put under artesian pressure and forces the ground up as it makes an expanding ice core. It is not the artesian pressure itself that forces the ground up, but rather the ice core that is being fed the water from the aquifer. These are often formed in a thin, discontinuous permafrost. These conditions allow an ice core to form, but also provide it with a supply of artesian ground water. These pingos are often oval or oblong shaped. It is still not entirely understood why open system or hydraulic pingos normally occur in unglaciated terrain.

Tuktoyaktuk in the Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories has one of the highest concentrations of pingos, with some 1,300 examples. Pingo National Landmark protects eight of these features. Other places with pingos include Alaska, Greenland, and the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. Some old pingo ruins can be found in the Netherlands as well, near Zwaagwesteinde in the province of Fryslân, and also in the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen.

In Siberia, pingos are known as bulganniakh, from the Yakut language.

PaulH, XOTAELE, Aramok, gracious, Bufo, Necipp, Proframe, anel, SunToucher, gannu, hester, Evelynn, ramthakur, lovenature, angybone has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
very cold placeswinterpalace 1 12-17 02:28
To angybone: ThanksJamesp 1 09-06 08:37
To lovenature: QuestionsJamesp 1 09-04 21:14
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2007-08-22 8:53]

Hi James,
Not to be confused with a certain small fictional Penguin i suspect ;o).
Composition is great, alot of depth and feeling of wild open country here, a very interesting documentation of this geological anomaly.

  • Great 
  • Aramok Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 896 W: 101 N: 1501] (5166)
  • [2007-08-22 10:24]

Hi James

Whilst you may not be too happy with the picture and there is obviously some loss od quality but you have more than made up for it with the geology lesson! great notes and example.


Hello James,
The interesting landform is more than the quality of the slide!
Still good clarity from the plane to show us the landform
thanks for sharing

  • Great 
  • Bufo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 404 W: 69 N: 951] (4247)
  • [2007-08-22 10:49]

Hi James, never mind the quality of the picture. You've shown here an interesting phenonemum which I have hardly seen well captured on the web. I'd just seen a few nice ones on Spitsbergen but under same conditions as you; rather dark during a nightr walk. Compliments for this post

Hello James what a wealth of knowledge you have about your subjects really interesting stuff. The photo is quite good also considering the difficulty from the airplane. tfs rgds Necip.

  • Great 
  • Silke Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 729 W: 98 N: 1707] (5458)
  • [2007-08-22 13:43]

I agree with Ema -- the geology lesson makes up for the lack of quality here.
Great refresher course!

This might not be the best image as it comes to technical details James, but it's very interresting and it's not always the technical side which makes the shot.
It's great you are showing us these wonderful pingos, especially because it's a wonderful view from above.
Normally we never would have had a change to take a look at scenes like this and I'm glad you are an excellent teacher.
Your discription of the how and what about these mountains is superb.
Thanks for sharing and the perfect note.
Best regards,

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-08-22 20:54]

Hello James

A wonderful lesson for today.The photo is an excellent documentation of this phenomenon.Well composed in the frame.The notes are very informative.I bet these are the first pingos on TN.TFS


  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-08-23 3:01]

Hello James,
Ahgain something very unusual. I never heard about these pingos and the very beautiful Russian name bulganniakh. Very interesting note; the picture is a good illustration. Very didactic posting. Thanks for it.
Have a nice day

Hi James,
I fully agree with Emma. The informative level of this photo is extreem high. Aint that a part of TrekNature as well? Looking past the quality, I actually see a wonderful view of a stunning area. The birdeye view gives it a completely different look on such baren country.

Impresionante escena amigo James.
Bellos colores y acertado encuadre.
Ajustada exposición y muy buenos contrastes.
Un saludo, JL.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2007-08-23 22:37]

James, Very nice shot but there seem to be noise. Also the picture is slightly not bright may be you have missed something in the PP. Ganesh

Hello James,
An amazing landcsape, almost surreal!
I can understan why you post even if the quality isn't the best but way good enough to illustrate this phenomenon!
Great educational note too...
Pablo -

  • Great 
  • hester Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
  • [2007-08-27 13:20]

Hi James

Amazing landscape and I loved the geological description in the note. Interesting stuff. I really enjoyed looking at this



We have driven as far as Inuvik (25+ years ago.. one of the first half dozen cars to make the drive the first day the road was open). We didn't fly out to Tuk and always wished we had but we had our dog along. Never saw so many mosquitoes in my life and hope to never see such again!

This is a very interesting, informative post. Thanks for the geology lesson!

Evelynn : )

An image of great informational value, James.
I am enriched by reading your note on the Pingos.
Good to see you back again. I too was off to Himachal Pradesh for a week recently.
Best regards.

Hello James,

Amazing beauty of a landscape almost bordering on the surreal,interesting composition.
the info is too good.


Excellent note James.
I've never heard of Pingos before, only drumlins and eskers. More geological wonders from the earth. How thick would the layer of earth and gravel be before you hit ice? If a Pingo melts, how high would the gravel and earth be? (questions..questions)
TFS Janice

THIS IS ART! It's nature but also art. You created an amazing composition here...the curves and colors are wonderful!

Hi James

never a dull moment in your portfolio - your life :-)



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