Photographer Mathew Nichols did not find the much sought after end of the rainbow, but he ended up going viral on social media when he shared a video of the moment he managed to capture a rare phenomenon in an ice cave in the US state of Washington. The young artist was walking through the region of Mount Rainier when he came across the incidence of sunlight on the icy formation, generating a kind of ‘underground rainbow’. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” the artist wrote in his instagram post.
“It just so happened that we were there at the right time,” he said. “The colors lasted for about two hours, then the vibrancy subsided as the day progressed. Even though it was really cold exploring these ice caves, I didn’t want it to end!” he continued. Several netizens were stunned by the effect of the colors in the cave, but others warned of the danger of visiting ice caves, which would surely give way if you got carried away and started singing “Over The Rainbow” inside the natural formation.
A local geologist who is familiar with the caves told Nichols that the variety of colors is due to multiple lighting effects. The reddish colors in the photo – known as “watermelon snow”, could be related to red algae growing in the snow. The blues, greens and purples, meanwhile, are from ice crystals that absorb the reddish parts of the sunlight spectrum — a process known as Rayleigh scattering. The varying thickness of the snow and the presence of dust and dirt particles trapped in the snowbank contribute to the color gamut.
Sharing the sheer good fortune of having witnessed the phenomenon, Mathew celebrated: “Everything from the lighting to the level of ice melt, to the time of day, had to line up perfectly and somehow I got there just in time.” “While I stood in the ice caves admiring the extravagant colors, the sun began to emerge from the clouds and the colors began to fade. It made me realize how lucky I really was to have experienced this and that it is something few people have ever had the pleasure of seeing.” moment that we can undoubtedly call a treasure.