These stunning frozen methane bubbles were captured at Abraham Lake

Alberta has a wealth of breathtaking lakes framed by stunning natural scenery, and when temperatures dip below freezing, some look especially striking thanks to a phenomenon that fizzes below the surface.

Icy phenomenon created when bacteria feed expel methane gas

The full-frame image captured by Wintography. (Supplied by Wintography)

Alberta has many breathtaking bodies of water framed by Rocky Mountain vistas, and some are made even more striking when temperatures sink below zero thanks to a phenomenon fizzing beneath the surface.

Large white bubbles are created in lakes and ponds when water-dwelling bacteria feed on decaying organic matter and expel methane gas. When the water freezes, the bubbles are suspended in the ice.

The bubbles are so prominent under the frozen surface of Alberta's artificially created Abraham Lake  — along the David Thompson Highway southwest of Nordegg — they lure visitors outdoors during wintry months.

These shots were snapped by those willing to brave the cold to capture the seasonal effect.

The icy bubbles up close. (Supplied by Wintography.)
Lake Abraham at dusk was captured by Geoff Pinkney on Nov. 23, 2019. (Submitted by Geoff Pinkney)
Aliona Rondeau captured the layered methane bubbles on Instagram. (Submitted by Aliona Rondeau)

And the images below were shot in previous winters, but are so stunning they still deserve a shout-out.

This photo of Abraham Lake's methane bubbles appeared on Aharon Amram's Instagram page. He says he shot it last year. (Submitted by Aharon Amram)
The lake and its bubbles by night. (Submitted by Nick Fitzhardinge)

If you can't make it out to Lake Abraham, you can see methane bubbles in other bodies of water around the province when the conditions are right. Locations include:

  • Barrier Lake, which is west of Calgary in Kananaskis. To get there, take a turn south on Highway 40 from the Trans-Canada Highway.
  • Banff National Park's Lake Minnewanka, located northeast of the Banff townsite.
  • Spray Lakes, which is a short drive west of Calgary and just south of Canmore,
  • Calgary's Elbow River.
  • Lake Bonnavista in Calgary's southeast.

Got a great shot of frozen methane bubbles? Send them to or tag us in your photo on Instagram.

With files from Rachel Maclean