SANTIAGO – A large iceberg has broken off the Grey glacier in southern Chile in a rare incident in two decades.
Grey glacier is located in the Southern Patagonian ice field, just west of the Cordillera del Paine. Before dividing in two at its front end, the glacier is 6km wide and more than 30m high.
Chile’s Conaf forestry service shared photos on social media of the enormous block of blue-white ice, which measured 350m (1,148ft) long by 380m (1,247ft) wide, as it floated free in waters of a glacial lagoon near the southern tip of the South American continent.
Guardaparques CONAF reportan desprendimiento de gran masa de hielo en Glaciar Grey, del Parque Torres del Paine: se estudian sus causas. pic.twitter.com/CknBkGHYlI
— CONAF (@conaf_minagri) November 28, 2017
Park officials at Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, home to the glacier, said such ruptures were rare and had not occurred since the early 1990s. The cause of the rupture was unclear, the officials added.
Dr Ricardo Jaña, a glaciologist from the Chilean Antarctic Institute, said the iceberg was bigger than expected.
“This is a situation we had anticipated, but the most singular and anecdotal thing is that it is an iceberg of much larger dimensions, which is notable.”
Desprendimiento en el glaciar Grey. Glaciólogo Ricardo Jaña: El hielo se ve compacto y consistente" https://t.co/WKwwSUtJm7 @Minrel_Chile @MMAChile @conaf_minagri @umagallanes pic.twitter.com/QEG6MwtaCO
— INACH (@inach_gob) November 28, 2017
Torres del Paine is one of Chile’s most popular tourist attractions, famous for its mountain views and visited by more than 115,000 tourists every year, according to Conaf.
It has also been named as the fifth most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic and the 8th Wonder of the World by TripAdvisor after a four-month contest in which people voted on 330 locations.