The thousands of oval lakes that dot Alaskas North Slope are some of the fastest-growing lakes on the planet. Ranging in size from puddles to more than 15 miles in length, the lakes have expanded at rates up to 15 feet per year, year in and year out for thousands of years. The lakes are shaped like elongated eggs with the skinny ends pointing northwest.
How the lakes grow so fast, why theyre oriented in the same direction and what gives them their odd shape has puzzled geologists for decades. The field of lakes covers an area twice the size of Massachusetts, and the lakes are unusual enough to have their own name: oriented thaw lakes.
"Lakes come in all sizes and shapes, but theyre rarely oriented in the same direction," said Jon Pelletier, an assistant professor of geosciences at The University of Arizona in Tucson.
Mari N. Jensen | EurekAlert!
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