Posted by: tysonrc | January 8, 2010


It has been very cold around St. Louis in the past few weeks; with today being the coldest day yet.  The extreme cold can bring about very good opportunities to view spectacular icicles, especially if you can find exposed bedrock that has been disturbed by human actions.  Things like road cuts along highways are the most common example.  Around St. Louis we have large deposits of porous limestone. 

Tyson Research Center is no exception to this and most of ours is Burlington-Keokuk, Kimmswick and Plattin limestones.  These formations are well-known for creating Karst topography and can carry water great distances through small, vein like tubes within the rocks.  When people blast the side off of a bluff to build a highway or mine the stone, they expose these secret, underground water flows.  This is where the magic really happens in this cold weather.  These trickles of water continue to flow because the groundwater is deep within the rock and doesn’t freeze until it comes out through the broken rock face.  Below freezing temperatures for a prolonged period can really cause these ice formations to build up into very grand sights.  They can truly be found anywhere exposed rock faces are, but just driving along interstate 44 will reveal hundreds of these and each one is unique.  Below are some pictures of some ice formations from our abandoned quarry area.

–Travis Mohrman



  1. Stunning photos, and good point on human disturbance allowing for opportunities for beauty. I think there’s a whole book on roadcut geology in Missouri…

  2. A tangential thought:
    It is said that there were more springs about the countryside in the old days. Maybe major earthworks creating these leaks in the system, lowering of water tables from pumping ground water, and possibly “too many” trees post fire suppression have worked together to dry these up?

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