While out amongst the Apostle Islands, I recorded some sounds of the ice shifting around. Contracting and expanding.

I used a Tascam DR-100 portable field recorder and an Aquarian Audio Hydrophone. The recording process usually involved drilling a hole in the ice with a hand-operated ice auger. Then, by dropping the hydrophone 3 meters below the ice, I was able to capture various sounds. Depending on the time of day and the temperatures, different things began to happen. Click the links below to hear the sounds. You will be redirected. If you have a sub woofer I recommend turning it up.

This first recording is the sound known as The Lake Drums. After the sun has been beating down on the ice all day, the cold snap brought by the sinking sun made big things happen. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep to well that night. Constantly amazed by the sounds around me. Not once did I feel endangered.

This recording is taken from the Bayview Camp, about 3 meters East and 3 meters under of my tent. When I awoke in the morning I found one of my ice screws, used to stake the tent down on ice, had shifted to a 45 degree angle.


The next recording was taken on a day trip to nearby Hermit Island. I stopped to photograph a large, blue chunk of upthrust ice near shore. As I walked closer I began to get a strange sensation. I stopped walking and realized that I was, ever so slightly, bobbing up and down on a huge plate of ice. As waves rolled past underneath the ice these crackling sounds revealed themselves. I quickly made a hole in the ice, which was roughly 10 inches thick, and deployed the sound equipment. I used my raft as a wind block.


These next sounds were stumbled upon in the same manner as the last. It was recommended that I not go near “Floating Rock”. This naturally occurring sandstone formation lies on the North end of Basswood Island. It’s shape creates a lot of turbulence, and therefor poor ice. All of my warnings as to ice conditions were taken from people who generally venture out on snowmobiles. I was lacking the extra 200-300 pounds, so I deemed it safe to get up close.

Floating Rock

While standing and staring at this ancient formation, with its bonsai companion growing out of it, I began to hear things coming from the caves near shore. Upon closer inspection I found the source: A half ice, half sandstone enclosure had water bubbling up through it. There was a large open crack for me to drop the hydrophone through, so I wouldn’t be needing the ice auger. I setup my equipment on a slab of ice near the sound source. Every once in a while, when a big swell rolled up, the entire slab I was on would make a massive cracking sound and move a little bit. Exciting! There are two clips here. One is taken with the Hydrophone below the water. The other is taken out of the water, with a different mic, inside the little cave.

Advertisements