Frost boil

Frost boil
Mud boils near Lapporten, Sweden

Frost boils (also known as mud boils, frost scars and mud circles [1]) are upwellings of mud that occur through frost heave and cryoturbation in permafrost areas, such as arctic and alpine regions. They are typically 1 to 3 metres in diameter with a bare soil surface, and dominantly circular, lacking "a border of stones" [2].

Frost boils often occur in swarms and may form terraces if a series of them surface in a slope. On slopes, frost boils are sometimes protected from erosion by a thin layer of mosses and lichens which retain surface tension as sediments flow downslope, to form a lobe. These landforms eventually settle like a caterpillar track (Van Everdingen, 1998).

Common characteristic include a bowl-shaped boil, an elevated center, a formation of an organic layer on the outer edge, and resistance of the soil surface to vegetation colonization. [3]

Drainage on frost boils differs as a result of micro relief across the frost boil surface. In warm seasons (summer), the elevated center of the frost boil is moderately well drained compared to the depressed inter boil. The permafrost table surface is also affected by differing activity across the boil. The inner boil is more active and generally has more than twice the active depth than the inter boil, which causes the permafrost table surface to be in a nearly perfect bowl shape. [4].


  1. ^ Peterson, R. A.; D. A. Walker, V. E. Romanovsky, J. A. Knudson, M. K. Raynolds, W. B. Krantz (2003). "A differential frost heave model: cryoturbation-vegetation interactions". 2. pp. 885–890. 
  2. ^ Van Everdingen, R. (1998). Multi-Language Glossary of Permafrost and Related Ground-Ice Terms. National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology, Boulder, CO. 
  3. ^ Shur, Yuri; C. L. Ping (Nov. 2003). The Driving Force of Frost Boils and Hummocks Formation. 84. pp. F368. 
  4. ^ Ping, C.L.; G. J. Michaelson, J. M. Kimble, Y. L. Shur, D. A. Walker (Nov. 2002). Morphogenesis of Soils Associate With Frost Boils. 83. pp. F259. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • frost boil —    A small mound of fresh soil material formed by frost action. A type of nonsorted circle commonly found in fine grained sediment underlain by permafrost, or formed in areas affected by seasonal frost.    Compare: patterned ground.    NRC …   Glossary of landform and geologic terms

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  • frostboil — frost boil n. Upper Midwest See frost heave. * * * …   Universalium

  • frostheave — frost heave n. New England A section of ruptured pavement caused by the expansion of freezing water immediately under the road. Also called frost boil. * * * …   Universalium

  • Drunken trees — Not to be confused with the floss silk tree, also known as the drunken tree or palo borracho. A drunken forest in Siberia caused by melting permafrost. NASA photo. Drunken trees, tilted trees, or a drunken forest, is a stand of trees displaced… …   Wikipedia

  • Cryoturbation — Asphalt damaged by cryoturbation, or freezing of groundwater In gelisols (permafrost soils), cryoturbation (frost churning) refers to the mixing of materials from various horizons of the soil right down to the bedrock due to freezing and thawing …   Wikipedia

  • nonsorted circle —    A type of patterned ground whose mesh (shape) is dominantly circular and has a nonsorted appearance due to the absence of a border of rock fragments. Vegetation characteristically outlines the pattern by forming a bordering ridge. Diameters… …   Glossary of landform and geologic terms

  • Permafrost — This article is about frozen ground. For other uses, see Permafrost (disambiguation). In geology, permafrost, cryotic soil or permafrost soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water (0 °C or 32 °F) for two or more years. Ice is not always …   Wikipedia

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