Photo Friday: Ice Collapse at Argentina Glacier

This Photo Friday, take a look at Glaciar Perito Moreno in Argentina, where ice collapse has become a spectacle. Perito Moreno is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Patagonia region. The terminus of the Perito Moreno glacier is 5 km wide, with an average height of 74 m above the surface of the water of Argentino Lake. It has a total ice depth of 170 meters (558 ft).

Tourists gather around the glacier (Source: Rodrigo Soldon /Filckr).


Los Glaciares National Park, Perito Moreno Glacier, 1981 (source: De Agostini Picture Library / P. Jaccod).


According to the glaciology studies, while most of the glaciers are retreating in the world as well as in Patagonia region, this unique glacier has advanced or remained the stable during the 20th century. Glaciar Perito Moreno is located in Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina) and is an eastern outlet glacier of the Southern Patagonia Icefield, the largest reserve of fresh water of the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica.

Comparison between early 20th century and contemporary photographs of Glaciar Perito Moreno. The upper photographs were taken in 1914 by the German Scientific Society Expedition and the lower photographs in 2013 by Claudia Guerrido (Source: Claudia M Guerrido/The Holocene)


Periodically, the glacier advances through the the “Lago Argentino,” or Argentine Lake, and reaches the Península de Magallanes. It has regularly produced an ice dam between the Brazo Rico and Canal de los Témpanos since the early 20th century. The most recent ice dam establishment was in 2016.

A photo of where the ice-dam formed (Source: María G. Lenzano/Cold Regions Science and Technology).


The ice dam is expected to collapse eventually in a spectacular rupture event due to the effect of calving.

Perito Moreno Glacier ice fall (Source: Creative Commons).

Video of the Week: A Glacier That Keeps Collapsing

We’ve all heard of glacial retreat. But have you heard of this glacier in Argentina that keeps collapsing?

Take a look at this BBC video of the Perito Moreno glacier in the country’s Patagonia region, where a part of the glacier recently collapsed. This event is, thankfully, not due to climate change. Rather, its part of an unusual cycle of an advancing glacier, slowly damming a section of the Argentino Lake, creating an ice bridge, which then ruptures and collapses when the water pressure becomes too great. This collapsing spectacle is part of a natural cycle that can occur once a year or sometimes less frequently, around once a decade.

Even though this collapse may not be due to climate change, scientists do say that overall the amount of glacial ice in the Patagonia region is decreasing.

Read more glacier news at GlacierHub:

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Watch This Dramatic Glacial Ice Collapse

An ice bridge collapsed at Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina earlier this month. Hundreds of tourists and locals gathered to witness the dramatic event.


Huge glacier collapses in Argentina:


On March 9, huge masses of ice broke up into pieces and fell into Argentino Lake, the largest lake in the country. This is a periodic process that happens every three to four years; the last one happened in 2012.

“The Perito Moreno Glacier began its breakup process. We’re waiting! (We) came to experience it firsthand!” the Tourism Secretariat of El Califate said, according to Fox News Latino.

There is no precise calculation as to when the breakups happen, but based on the history it starts when the glacial outflow begins to occur, during which water constantly flows out through an opening at the bottom of a glacier.

The Perito Moreno ice field generates pressure and forces the glacier to grow toward the southern arm of Lake Argentino, forming a dam. As the amount of water increases within the dam, the flow of water creates a tunnel through the glacier. Gradually the water flow washes out the exterior of the ice wall and creates the famous ice bridge. When the ice bridge can no longer hold the weight of ice above it, the spectacular collapse happens. The bridge structure is believed to have consisted of several thousands tonnes of ice.

Perito Moreno glacier's ice bridge collapse (Credit: Wikimedia)
Perito Moreno glacier’s ice bridge collapse (Credit: Wikimedia)

In 2008, the ice fell apart in winter in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, according to Reuters. There were concerns as to whether global warming had an impact on the collapse. However, experts said the collapse only happened because of natural physical processes and no climate change factor was involved.

In fact, Argentina’s Perito Moreno glacier is one of a few glaciers that are growing in spite of global warming, according to NBC News.  

“We’re not sure why this happens,” a glaciologist, Andres Rivera, with the Center for Scientific Studies, in Valdivia, Chile said according to NBC News. ”But not all glaciers respond equally to climate change.”

The Perito Moreno Glacier, located in the Los Glaciares National Park, is one of the most important tourist sites in Argentina and is the world’s third largest freshwater reservoir as well.

A spokesman for Los Glaciares National Park Matilde Oviedo told The Daily Mail there was a “tremendous noise” when the bridge fell, according to a report.

“There were a lot of people but we were expecting it to happen a little later.”


Video of Argentina’s ice-bridge collapse:


Photo Friday: Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier is a glacier located in the Los Glaciares National Park in southwest Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. It is one of the most important tourist attractions in the Argentinian Patagonia. The tourists can view the glacier from a small boat. Lucky visitors also could witness huge chunks of ice breaking from the glacier, falling into Lake Argentino. The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is growing while most of the glaciers around the world are retreating, but the mysterious reason still puzzles climatologists.

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Photo Friday: The Frozen Diamonds in Patagonia

A Glaciers Photo Contest was held last summer by ViewBug and Resource Magazine. It is difficult to capture galciers due to the size, location, and reflection of light. However, the winner of this contest, Paul Cashman, mastered the task with “The Coldest Shots of Patagonia“. In order to well capture these cold giants, he traveled to Torres Del Paine and Mount Fitzroy in Chile and Argentina where most of the pictures were taken. Check out the wining photo of Paul Cashman and more photos for this project, or visit his website.

Photo Friday highlights photo essays and collections from areas with glaciers. If you have photos you’d like to share, let us know in the comments, by Twitter @glacierhub or email us at

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