Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mud cracks revisited

In a previous post I showed a picture of the desiccation cracks that formed when a little pond on our Brenham property dried out this summer.  We visited three months later (yesterday), and found that the cracks in the mud weathered, and now look more like ant mounds.  The two pictures, side by side are shown below.
October 14, 2010                ©RomaniaRocks                          January 8, 2011
Three-month repeat photography of desiccation cracks, Brenham - Texas.
The picture to the left was taken immediately after the water in the pond evaporated; the mud on the bottom of the pond was exposed to the surface, it shrunk and cracked resulting in the polygonal shapes shown in the photo.  As the mud continued to dry during the three months of subaerial exposure, it lost its strength and started to crumble, taking the mounded form shown in the picture to the right.

Also very interesting is the fact that this polygonal pattern so characteristic to the desiccation cracks shows up in many places and at a variety of scales in nature, from beer foam, to the skin of a giraffe, to structures found at the nano-particle scales, to patterns found in the Universe.  The short video below  from University of Nottingham-Sixty Symbols describes very nicely the multi-scale occurrence of the polygonal pattern.


  1. Beer foam! Nice photos of new and weathered mud cracks.

  2. Another nice post. Did you see the recent WoGE about mima mounds? The process seems like it might be different, but the result is strikingly similar, albeit at a different scale.


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