This Icy Lake in Colorado Is Emitting Sci-Fi Laser Sounds

In February of 2020 a team of researchers in Antarctica did something magical: They threw chunks of ice down super-deep holes in the frozen ground and recorded the subsequent laser-like sounds. Now, a state park official in Colorado has recorded similar sounds near some chilly H2O. Although this time, it’s unclear who made them.

Boing Boing picked up on the auditory discovery, which the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department (CPW) recently posted to Twitter. The department notes that the video features “INCREDIBLE” sounds of ice from Steamboat Lake state park; a state park north of the sleepy city of Steamboat Springs.

In the video (above) we do indeed hear some incredible sounds that tantalize the imagination. The sounds begin around five seconds into the clip and then continue on for another few seconds before fading out. The sounds are difficult to describe, but sci-fi undoubtedly comes to mind. CPW even notes that they sound kind of like something out of Star Wars.

As for what’s likely happening, cracking ice is likely producing sound waves beneath the frozen lake’s surface. As the sound waves make their way through holes in the lake’s frozen surface they bounce around, in turn increasing their frequency and pitch. Where the CPW official was standing when they recorded the sounds was probably important too thanks to the Doppler effect. That is, the phenomenon wherein a sound wave heading toward a person increases in frequency, and decreases as it heads away. (The Doppler effect also applies to lightwaves.)

The surface of a clear, frozen lake in wintertime, which sometimes emits natural sounds that seem similar to lasers.
Benjamin White

Unlike the ice-hole toss video from 2020, this one, as of this writing, has yet to go viral. Which is unfortunate, as the department has used the social media exposure afforded by these weird laser sounds to promote “ice safety” tips. Although if the CPW can’t identify the true source of these sounds soon, it may want to consider providing advice on how to avoid abduction.

Feature image: Benjamin White

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