Cold snap: Frost quake cracks road in Wisconsin

Just after Christmas, we posted about news of a “boom” in Toronto likely caused by a cryoseism or frost quake. Well, there were many more reports of frost quakes that occurred across the northern U.S. as the polar vortex weather system dropped temperatures to record lows. In this case, actual damage was recorded.

Waupun man’s driveway split by apparent frost quake | fdlreporter.com.

The cracking sound, like an explosion, was heard about 6 p.m. Jan. 7 around Waupun, Fairwater, Brandon, Markesan, Oakfield and Campbellsport.

Dennis Olsen of Waupun thought perhaps his garage had blown up as he peered out into the winter night.

Nope. Everything was quiet.

But the next morning, Olsen’s grandson was coming up the gravel driveway to visit and came upon a strange sight.

The giant crack ran across the driveway and, when they looked again, they realized it also ran the length of the drive.

The crack was greater than 100 feet long. Local authorities noted other cracks around the area as well. The frost quakes are caused by rapid freezing and expansion of water in the soil and bedrock. The sound is loud. The ice quakes and cracking can also be observed in structures and on lakes.

Other residents heard it and even called 911 to report it.

As it warms up, the ground will expand with moisture gradually. The crack in Olsen’s road will not cause any hazard.

More from Discover and Smithsonian.

he seismic signal of a frost quake, as recorded by a seismometer in Ontario. Photo: Natural Resources Canada

The seismic signal of a frost quake, as recorded by a seismometer in Ontario. Photo: Natural Resources Canada

 

  1 comment for “Cold snap: Frost quake cracks road in Wisconsin

  1. January 17, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    Aren’t these also called “frost heaves”? Not entirely unheard of around here, but not real common either.

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