The mechanism of sun-crust formation was investigated through laboratory experiments in a cold wind tunnel. The experiments were carried out by controlling the energy balance and the sun crust formed was consistent with that observed in Nature, i.e. a thin ice layer composed of ice particles and cavities due to internal melting beneath the sun-crust layer. The surface-cooling rate was between −50 and −100 W m−2, and the absorption of shortwave radiation exceeded 200 W m−2. The energy balance during the formation of the sun crust is consistent with the data observed in Nature.
The sources of H2O for the sun-crust formation were investigated through changes in δ18O. Taking into account that the δ value of sun crust was larger than that of the snow beneath it and the calculations of the latent-heat emission with the sun-crust formation, it was concluded that the retention of meltwater by capillary force and refreezing in a thin layer was the dominant mechanism of this metamorphism.