- Atomic force microscopy is used to study the ordering dynamics of symmetric diblock copolymer films. The films order to form a lamellar structure which results in a frustration when the film thickness is incommensurate with the lamellae. By probing the morphology of incommensurate films in the early ordering stages, we discover an intermediate phase of lamellae arranged perpendicular to the film surface. This morphology is accompanied by a continuous growth in amplitude of the film surface topography with a characteristic wavelength, indicative of a spinodal process. Using self-consistent field theory, we show that the observation of perpendicular lamellae suggests an intermediate state with parallel lamellae at the substrate and perpendicular lamellae at the free surface. The calculations confirm that the intermediate state is unstable to thickness fluctuations, thereby driving the spinodal growth of surface structures.