Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

2015 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Hargitai, Ákos Kereszturi

Shrinkage Crack Polygon

  • Stephen H. Anderson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3134-3_420


Shrinkage crack polygon: structure appearing in sedimentary or volcanic rock layer formed by tension due to shrinkage, structure in soil layer formed by tension due to shrinkage of smectitic clay within layer.

Subaerial: formation of desiccation crack polygon due to pore water loss in drying sediment.

Synaeresis: subaqueous cracking of sediment (Plummer and Gostin 1981; Astin and Rogers 1991; Tanner 1998).

Thermal crack polygon: shrinkage crack polygon formed due to cooling in permafrost or lava.

Dehydration: crack polygon formed as a result of loss of crystallographic water, e.g., hydrated salts (Kargel 2004).


A type of  patterned ground.



Crack Classification (Plummer and Gostin 1981): Cracks are orthogonal (or rectangular) when cracks intersect at 90° angles, and they are not propagated simultaneously, but slowly....

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA