The ice at Abraham Lake showing frozen bubbles of methane

The ice at Abraham Lake showing frozen bubbles of methane

Abraham Lake’s frozen bubbles beautiful but deadly

A winter phenomenon that is attracting sightseers and photographers to Abraham Lake comes with a caution from an experienced outdoorsman.

A winter phenomenon that is attracting sightseers and photographers to Abraham Lake comes with a caution from an experienced outdoorsman.

The artificial lake, which is a reservoir for the Bighorn Dam on the North Saskatchewan River, is located 211 km west of Red Deer on Hwy 11. It has been a popular destination in winter because of large frozen bubbles in the ice.

The bubbles are caused by methane gas released by decaying organic matter in the water. The gas freezes in the ice during winter, making for some interesting photos.

However, because water is drawn down from the reservoir, it can create conditions where there is air, not water, right below the ice surface.

Bary Shellian, from Rocky Mountain House, recently went out to the lake, in the vicinity known as Windy Point, about 40 km west of Nordegg. He had gone out to the area to ride his fat-tire bike, made for riding in winter conditions, because he had heard about the bubbles.

It’s not a lake, it’s a reservoir, which means it’s constantly being drained, said Shellian.

“It’s not safe at all actually because if it was a normal lake and you fell through the ice, the water would be right there. You might have a hope of getting back up.

“But boy, the reservoir, if the ice broke, you could drop several feet through space before you hit the water.” The ice doesn’t drop as the water is depleted.

His advice is to stay off the lake.

“I have a pretty high tolerance for risk. I’ve been through the ice before and pulled myself up.” But if someone were to fall through the ice, they may not be able to reach up high enough from the water to pull themselves out.

Shellian was riding along on his bike on the ice when he suddenly realized there was air, rather than water, under it. “It wasn’t normal ice.” He immediately headed to shore.

People can still see the bubbles in ice that has been pushed upwards along the shore.

But there’s a bit of a slope down to the lake and because it’s icy, some people who had gone to look at the bubbles when he was there were unable to get back up the grade. Shellian said they faced a several kilometre walk.

“The bubbles are cool for sure. It’s beautiful. It’s like a lava lamp. … but be cautious because it is not a normal lake.”

“It’s a cool thing to see, but I’ve never wanted to caution people so much. … People don’t realize they could be in danger.”

Just Posted

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud.)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2-M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred a relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Alberta’s health care system under ‘significant stress,’ says AHS president

The province’s health care system is currently under more stress than at… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team announced Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer Rebels acquire goaltender Connor Ungar, forward Liam Keeler in separate trades

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon… Continue reading

(Advocate file photo)
Man charged following police chases last summer is sentenced

Alexander Michael Talbot sentenced to 22 months in prison

COVID-19 test kit. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Deer businesses can order COVID testing kits from the Chamber

Kits are being provided through a partnership with the Alberta government

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals silent on nature of Fortin probe or who will replace him on vaccine campaign

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is scrambling to reassure Canadians that the… Continue reading

A woman attends a vigil in front of the hospital where Joyce Echaquan died in Joliette, Que., on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Hospital staff testify today at Quebec coroner’s inquiry into death of Joyce Echaquan

TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. — Medical staff from a Quebec hospital where Joyce Echaquan… Continue reading

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on February 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa looking for 2,000 new energy auditors to get home retrofit program going

OTTAWA — The federal government is looking to train 2,000 more people… Continue reading

A person waits outside a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, May 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Ontario opens shots to 18+, Quebec opens drive-thru, as COVID vaccine efforts expand

Quebec is opening a drive-thru vaccine clinic at its busiest airport and… Continue reading

Calgary Flames players celebrate the team's overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Lindholm OT winner gives Flames 6-5 win over Canucks despite blowing four-goal lead

VANCOUVER — In a game with little to play for besides pride,… Continue reading

In this photo taken on May 13, 2021, Russia's performer, Manizha, smiles during an interview after rehearsing at the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands. For many, the stage and global television audience of millions is a chance to express messages of inclusion, strength and positivity. Manizha has a message of strength for women in her song whose lyrics include the lines: "Every Russian Woman. Needs to know. You're strong enough to bounce against the wall." (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Eurovision Song Contest returns despite coronavirus pandemic

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Pounding beats? Check. Uplifting lyrics? Check. Huge, backlit… Continue reading

Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball to Italy's Lisa Pigato during their match at the Emilia Romagna Open tennis tournament, in Parma, Monday, May 17, 2021. Serena Williams earned her first victory in more than three months by beating 17-year-old qualifier Lisa Pigato 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the Emilia-Romagna Open. Williams accepted a wild-card invitation for the Parma tournament after losing her opening match at the Italian Open last week. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
Serena Williams posts 1st victory in more than 3 months

PARMA, Italy (AP) — Serena Williams earned her first victory in more… Continue reading

In this Oct. 21, 2014 file photo, people pass an AT&T store in New York's Times Square. AT&T will combine its media operations that include CNN HBO, TNT and TBS in a $43 billion deal with Discovery, the owner of lifestyle networks including the Food Network and HGTV. The deal announced Monday, May 17, 2021, would create a separate media company as households increasingly abandon cable and satellite TV, looking instead at Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
AT&T, Discovery join media brands as cord-cutting encroaches

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T will combine its massive media operations that… Continue reading

Most Read