Home Science Environment The Underwater Phenomenon ‘Ice Finger of Death’

The Underwater Phenomenon ‘Ice Finger of Death’

A bizarre underwater phenomenon in Antarctica has been caught on camera. However, be warned, the stunning phenomenon hides a deadly secret. With time-lapse cameras, Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson, for the first time, were able to time record the rare natural event dubbed the “Ice Finger of Death.”

The twisting column of ice drives down to the sea floor, where starfish and sea life are scattered. As the twisting ice spiral appears, it is incredibly dangerous, it freezes and kills everything around it once it touches the sea floor, hence the name “Ice Finger of Death.”

The icy phenomenon is caused by cold, sinking brine, which is denser than the rest of the sea water. It forms a brinicle as it contacts warmer water below the surface creating a finger-like formation that grows underneath sea ice.

Where the brinicle “Ice Finger of Death” meets the sea bed, a web of ice forms and freezers everything it touches, including sea urchins and starfish. While scientists are already aware of the phenomenon, it has rarely been observed in real time.

It only occurs in specific conditions in the Polar Regions of Earth under blocks of floating sea ice. Hugh Miller set up the time-lapse equipment in the hope of capturing a growing brinicle under the ice at Little Razorback Island, near Antarctica’s Ross Archipelago, telling BBC Nature:

Miller recalled that he had taken note of the temperature so he could return to the area as soon as the same conditions presented themselves. He added:

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  • Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.

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