A spectacular so-called “ice volcano” has become a popular tourist attraction and social media sensation in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where crowds are gathering each day to watch the 13.7-metre (45-foot) mound blow hot steam from its frosty top.
The ice volcano is caused by an underground hot spring that occasionally launches hot water and steam into the air. The water freezes around the edges and builds up around the spout, forming a hollow mound with a steaming top resembling a volcano.
In other words, there is no lava involved with this volcano, although it’s still powered by geothermal forces.
Locals have been flocking to the site to capture photos and videos of the spout for weeks.
Kazakhstan’s official tourism Twitter account shared a story about the volcano earlier this week. It also added the hashtag “Visit Kazakhstan” — although that’s a bit difficult to do right now in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
North Americans who want to catch a glimpse of an ice volcano can still do so closer to home. Several smaller cones have reportedly formed on the Great Lakes between Canada and the U.S. in recent weeks. The cones are much smaller than the one in Kazakhstan, and they are fed by waves under the ice, rather than erupting hot springs.
The North American cones often form in the depths of winter, so you might be able to see them next year if you miss them in February.
This is such an interesting ice formation on Lake Ontario. A big thank you to Gina for sending us this awesome picture of an 'Ice Volcano' along the lake shore. WOW! #ROC #NYwx pic.twitter.com/pznvSgzYz2
— Mark McLean (@Wxandgardenguy) February 7, 2021