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Science. 2003 Jan 17;299(5605):380-3.

Self-organization of sorted patterned ground.

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1
Complex Systems Laboratory, Cecil and Ida Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA. mkessler@es.ucsc.edu

Abstract

Striking circular, labyrinthine, polygonal, and striped patterns of stones and soil self-organize in many polar and high alpine environments. These forms emerge because freeze-thaw cycles drive an interplay between two feedback mechanisms. First, formation of ice lenses in freezing soil sorts stones and soil by displacing soil toward soil-rich domains and stones toward stone-rich domains. Second, stones are transported along the axis of elongate stone domains, which are squeezed and confined as freezing soil domains expand. In a numerical model implementing these feedbacks, circles, labyrinths, and islands form when sorting dominates; polygonal networks form when stone domain squeezing and confinement dominate; and stripes form as hillslope gradient is increased.

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PMID:
12532013
DOI:
10.1126/science.1077309
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