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A pingo, also called a hydrolaccolith, is a mound of earth with a core of ice found in the Arctic and subarctic regions, that can reach up to 70 meters in height and up to 600 meters in diameter. Pingos are formed as a result of what is called a “closed” system of unfrozen soil developing within an area of permanently frozen ground. Pingos usually grow a few centimeters per year, and the largest take decades or even centuries to form. Pingos eventually break down and collapse. Evidence of collapsed pingos in an area suggests that there was once permafrost.

Tuktoyaktuk in the Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories in Canada has one of the highest concentrations of pingos, with some 1,350 examples. Pingo National Landmark protects eight of these features. Two of the most famous pingos are Ibyuk and Split. Ibyuk is about 50 meters high and is the tallest pingo in Canada and the second tallest in the world. It is the world’s largest growing pingo, and continues to grow at a rate of about 2 centimeters per year. Ibyuk is estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. Other pingos in the landmark range in height from 5 to 36 meters and represent various stages of pingo development.

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© Amusing Planet, 2013.


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