Beneath the Permafrost, Fountains Waiting to Burst Forth
Alaska Dispatch News
June 27, 2015
Wilderness guide Garrett Jones takes a photo of water fountaining from the tundra near the middle fork of the Chandalar River.
While tightroping on tussock heads in a bog off the Chandalar River, two companions and I heard a waterfall. Strange.
Looking through binoculars, we saw a knee-high fountain of clear water in the tundra. The flow was as thick as your leg. We squished over to investigate.
The three of us had never seen water spewing from the ground in such a way. The clear water was so cold it burned, forcing us to pull our hands back after a second or two.
A few days later, on our flight out of the Bush, pilot Dirk Nickisch said yes, he had seen tundra “hydrants” in a few Arctic valleys. When I got back, local experts watched this video.
They theorized that we had seen the effect of high-pressure groundwater finding a way through permafrost.