thaw hole

A melt hole in sea ice, formed at the site of an allu (a seal’s breathing hole) where surface water flows through an underlying universe of dark seawater, is called a thaw hole. As Gretel Ehrlich writes, “This is the eye into the universe/that has gone past seeing.” When large volumes of surface water from melting snow begin draining through an allu, the swirling current scours out a basin centered on the cone-shaped shaft a seal has gnawed through from below. Depending on the volume of water involved, some of these roaring whirlpools can be dangerous to anyone who approaches. Once the surface water has largely drained away, the basin fills with seawater, creating a calm, transparent eye with a dark pupil.

Eva Saulitis