KKettle holes are small lakes formed by the melting of hard lenses of ice that were left behind after the last ice age.  So the ice was left in a lump in the frozen earth, and usually also covered in earth to form a hill.  These still exist in permafrost areas, like northern Canada, (the search for pingos threw up the wonderfully named Tuktoyaktuk pingos) but I thought pingos were ice age ponds… so I got confused.

kettlehole formation Padeswood Biodiversity Park(click picture to enlarge)

The kettle hole is what is left behind when the ice under a pingo melts.  One of the characteristics of them is fairly steep sides and flat bottoms, since the action of the glacier erodes them that way.  There’s a very nice project here talking about them and their biodiversity – thank you, Padeswood Biodiversity Park for the diagram above.

So when the Norfolk Wildlife Trust is talking about pingo ponds, it means kettle holes.  And the pingo ponds in Norfolks Brecklands are a very rare type of habitat.  Consequently, having realised that, there is a good deal of conservation work going on to protect them and their wildlife, and educate people about them.

There is an 8 mile trail around the pingo ponds, and you can start at a number of points, as well as the official start and end car park.  I suppose it helps to read the notices.

Anywhere that is or has been glaciated can have kettle holes – they are fairly common in Canada, Scotland, and New Zealand, for example, and I could even see them in Svalbard if I went back in summer.

Pictures from Norfolk Wildlife Trust (norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk)

Kettle holes and pingo ponds
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6 thoughts on “Kettle holes and pingo ponds

  • 13 April, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I had never heard of kettle holes. Really interesting, Jemima. I will have to see if Maine has any, since the various Ice Ages created its topography.

    • 13 April, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      When I first heard someone at the University of East Anglia talking about looking for pingos, I thought they were joking!

    • 13 April, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      You can explore and let us know, Patricia!

  • 13 April, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Cool! I’d heard of kettle holes, but not pingos. Love how perfectly round that one is.

    • 13 April, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      I’m not sure if it’s an exception or fairly common for pingo pools. I suppose it depends on the ice lens that made it.

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