Freaky-looking 'ice volcanoes' erupt from frigid Lake Michigan

The right combination of weather and waves fueled this weird phenomenon.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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Ice volcano!

NWS Grand Rapids

Good news! We don't have to go all the way to dwarf-planet Ceres to experience ice volcanoes. We have our very own version of this frosty phenomenon right here on Earth.

The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, shared some spectacular views of "ice volcanoes" spewing out of Lake Michigan during a cold front over the weekend.

"It was a great day to visit the beach and watch the waves interact with the ice," NWS Grand Rapids tweeted on Sunday, along with a photo of the exotic-looking eruptions at Oval Beach.

It's easy to see how ice volcanoes earned their nickname. NWS Grand Rapids posted a close-up photo that shows the cone-shaped ice with an explosion of slushy water spitting out of the top. 

Michigan Technological University has an explainer on ice volcanoes: "Cones begin to form at the leading edge of the ice shelf as it builds out into the lake. When the waves, driven by strong onshore winds, feel bottom, they build and break onto the ice shelf. After the ice shelf has built out, waves continue to travel underneath the ice and are forced up through cracks and previously formed cones."

The cones can reach heights of over 26 feet (8 meters), and the resulting slush plumes can be impressive. Check out Michigan Tech's collection of ice volcano photos, including one with an observer fleeing from an icy eruption.

If you do spot an ice volcano in person, you might want to give it a wide berth.

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