Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

2015 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Hargitai, Ákos Kereszturi

Sorted Patterned Ground

  • Thierry Feuillet
  • Giacomo Certini
  • Fiorenzo C. Ugolini
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3134-3_536


Geometric pattern of the ground, determined by the arrangement of stones formed by the sorting of clasts from fine-grained sediments in freeze–thaw cycles (Gallagher et al. 2011).



Surface area displaying a self-organized quasi-regular repeated pattern resulting from active frost-related processes or relict forms.


  1. (1)

    Sorted circles appear as a circular border of clasts surrounding a center of fines. The stony borders show size segregation with the largest clasts at the surface of the border with decreasing size with depth. On horizontal surface they retain their circular shape, but on slopes they become oblong or form stripes. They vary in diameter from a few centimeters to about 4 m.

    The process of patterned ground formation may create stony areas among the sorted features that act as a trap for airborne fines as well as those produced by in situ weathering. The storage of these fines...

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thierry Feuillet
    • 1
  • Giacomo Certini
    • 2
  • Fiorenzo C. Ugolini
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire LETG-Nantes-Géolittomer, CNRSNantesFrance
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agroalimentari e dell’Ambiente (DISPAA)Università degli Studi di FirenzeFlorenceItaly