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Nature's Ice Designs

Scooped out circles

Polygon Islands
Mark Kessler of the Earth Sciences Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz thinks these patterns aren't man-made as some have thought, but are made by what's called "forest heave" - ice freezing and thawing, sorting and squeezing the different sizes of rocks and soil. Using a computer program he thinks he's successfully duplicated the effect.

Kessler said, "One of the real mysteries to me was how you can get labyrinths or islands of stones in one location and polygons in another, when the ratio of stones to soil is the same in both places. Our model indicates that you get polygons when the squeezing is strong enough to counteract the effects of lateral sorting."

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