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Ice Wedge Polygon

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The surface expression of permafrost crosscut by integrated/intersecting polygonized fractures (formed by means of thermal-contraction) that are filled with frozen water, i.e., ice wedges.


A type of nonsorted patterned ground

A type of periglacial landform


Ice-wedge polygon networks range from a few meters to tens of kilometers in reach (Fig. 1 ) (Washburn 1973; Mackay 1980; French 2007). Typically, individual ice-wedge polygons show diameters in the 5–40 m range (Washburn 1973; French 2007); however, ice-wedge polygons with diameters >100 m have been observed in Eastern Siberia (Geocryology of the USSR, Eastern Siberia and the far east 1989). Ice-wedge diameters at the apex range from <10 cm to >3 m, commonly tapering to a feather edge at a depth of 1 to >10 m (Harris et al. 1988).

Fig. 1
figure 1

An extensive outcrop of thermal-contraction polygons (~15–25 m in diameter) in the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands (Photo by R. Soare)

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Fig. 1
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Correspondence to Henrik Hargitai or Richard Soare .

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© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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Hargitai, H., Soare, R. (2014). Ice Wedge Polygon. In: Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms. Springer, New York, NY.

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