Science & Technology
Perfectly square iceberg baffles the Internet
By T.K. Randall
October 21, 2018 · 44 comments
This unusual feature is what is known as a 'tabular' iceberg. Image Credit: NASA / Twitter
This strangely geometric piece of ice was photographed by NASA off Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf.
The photograph, which was posted up on Twitter this week, was taken as part of Operation IceBridge - an ongoing airborne NASA mission that aims to monitor changes in the polar ice caps.
Social media users were quick to pick up on the iceberg's impossibly perfect edges and smooth, featureless surface - a stark contrast to the chaotic shapes and sizes of other icebergs.
According to ice scientist Kelly Brunt however, it likely formed through a relatively common process.
"We get two types of icebergs," she told Live Science. "We get the type that everyone can envision in their head that sank the Titanic, and they look like prisms or triangles at the surface and you know they have a crazy subsurface. And then you have what are called 'tabular icebergs.'"
The latter can be very flat and geometric and typically split from the edges of ice sheets through a process that is not dissimilar to a fingernail growing too long and breaking off at the end.
Despite appearances, the iceberg in the photograph is actually several miles across and most of it is submerged under the water. The part you can't see is likely to be shaped much like a regular iceberg.
Also, despite its flat surface, the iceberg is probably quite fragile and would break if you walked on it.
A photograph of a second tabular iceberg in the same area can be viewed - here
Source: Live Science
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