A brinicle (brine icicle, also known as ice stalactite) forms beneath sea ice when a flow of extremely cold, saline water is introduced to an area of ocean water, being the undersea equivalent of a hollow stalactite or icicle.

Known since the 1960s, the generally accepted model of their formation was proposed by the US oceanographer Seelye Martin in 1974.[1] The formation of a brinicle was first filmed in 2011 by producer Kathryn Jeffs and cameramen Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson for the BBC series Frozen Planet.[1]

Source: Wikipedia

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brinicle

  • de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisstalaktit
    – Carsten S
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 21:28
  • @CarstenS Ich kenne einen Wikipedianer, den ich gebeten habe, darüber zu schreiben, nachdem ich von dakab eine Antwort bekam ;-) Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 2:31
  • Ok, ich hätte mir die Historie ansehen sollen.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 6:24
  • 1
    So schnell haben wir Wissen geschaffen ;-) Der Wikipedia-Artikel hat schon mehr Quellen als manch anderer mit gesicherteren Umständen. Brinicles scheinen jedenfalls eine latente (get it?) Bekanntheit zu haben (auch im deutschen Raum), speziell durch die BBC-Doku.
    – dakab
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 8:02
  • FWIW: Brinicle in action: imgur.com/gallery/zxK0rZX Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


It’s not easy to find any equivalent. It might even be impossible. Perhaps etymology helps. Where does brinicle come from? “Brine” is just water with high salinity, you might call it Sole in German. However, its etymology doesn’t help at all, because it seems to have derived from “to cut” or “to maim”. “Icicle”, on the other hand, has a perfect Germanic origin (actually meaning “icy lump of ice”), yet Germans call it Eiszapfen (“ice cone”).

If I had to make an analogy up, I’d start with Sole-Eiszapfen, ’cause that’s what “brinicle” means. While it makes it sound like it appears on land, you could say the same for “brinicle”.

There’s a German National Geographic article that mentions Eis-Stalaktit (“ice stalactite”), referring to its hanging appearance. However, it leaves out the salty part. An Austrian newspaper had a short report on the BBC documentary, and they called it Eisfinger (“ice finger”), which also gets the idea across, yet still not accounting for the saline water involved.

Finally, look at some of the other Wikipedia languages, and their respective translations to German:

  • Swedish: IsstalaktitEis-Stalaktit? (“ice stalactite”)
  • Turkish: ölüm sarkıtıStalaktiten des Todes (“stalactites of death”)
  • Catalan: estalactita de gelStalaktiten aus Eis (“stalactites of ice”)

I don’t think there’s a common, widely accepted German word for “brinicle”. Just make one up.

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