A Mississauga man’s photo of a bizarre “creek circle” — a round piece of ice, spinning, on the surface of a frozen creek — has become an Internet hit.
Brook Tyler, a research director and amateur photographer, stumbled across the six-foot-wide circle on Saturday morning, as he strolled across Sheridan Creek in the Rattray Marsh Conservation area.
“It was a perfectly round circle with about two inches of slush and water around the sides, and it was spinning,” he said. “I was so excited to see if I could capture the movement.”
Mr. Tyler, 49, photographed the mysterious rotating disk, which he called a “creek circle” as a tongue-in-cheek jab at crop circles, unusual designs that have randomly appeared in farmers’ fields, and posted it to the Flickr photo-sharing Web site.
In the days since, it has drawn considerable attention online. BlogTO featured Mr. Taylor’s photo, and nearly 150,000 people viewed it on Digg, and debated its potentially paranormal origins.
Mr. Tyler insists he did not alter the photo, aside from brightening it a bit, and says the ice circle was not manmade.
“The ice was actually too thin on the creek to walk on and there was no footprints on the ice. The creek had just frozen,” he said.
This is not the first “creek circle” to appear in Canada.
Eight years ago, Joan LaForty stumbled across a similar phenomenon her backyard in Delta, Ont.
The 15-foot-wide spinning circle of ice drew quite a crowd in the small eastern Ontario farming town.
“It was nature or environment or something. It wasn’t manmade. Not possible,” she said. “Unless it was a little guy from Mars up there, or a flying saucer or something. That’s what I thought at first.”
But don’t call in the ufologists just yet.
These close encounters can be explained by quick shifts in temperature, said Joe Desloges, a river specialist and geography professor at the University of Toronto.
Mr. Desloges explained that the frozen circles are actually ice pans, or surface slabs of ice that form in the center of a lake or creek, instead of along the water’s edge.
As water cools, it releases heat that turns into frazil ice – a collection of loose, needle shaped ice particles that can cluster together in an ice pan. If it accumulates enough frazil ice and the current is slow, over time, the pan can become a hanging dam – a dense, heavy piece of ice with high ridges and a low centre.
But he admits that the near-perfect circular shape of the Mississauga ice pan is very strange.
“Normally, you do not get edges of the ice pan so clean and even. It may occur when a pan forms quickly, then melts a bit before starting to refreeze,” he said. “There is the chance that these can form so perfectly, but not common at all.”source