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article imageVideo: Massive Perito Moreno ice glacier collapses in Argentina

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 6, 2012 in Environment
El Calafate - An advancing ice glacier known as the Perito Moreno that cuts off and dams the river feeding the Lago Argentino ("Argentine Lake") collapsed on Sunday under pressure from water flowing in the river that feeds the lake.
The collapse of the ice dam repeats at irregular intervals as the ice glacier advances into the lake. The last time it happened was in 2008.
The Telegraph reports that the mass of ice known as the Perito Moreno, in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina, covers 97 square miles near the city of El Calafate. Periodically, the glacier advances over the L-shaped Lago Argentino, forming a dam that separates the Lake into two halves. With no escape route, the water-level on the Brazo Rico side of the lake rises, sometimes up to 30 meters above the level of the main lake. The pressure produced by the height of the dammed water finally breaks the ice barrier holding it back, in a spectacular event. This rupture cycle is irregular and it recurs at any frequency between once a year to less than once a decade.
AFP reports that the ice dam collapsed early Sunday, creating a majestic spectacle seen last in July 2008. But unfortunately, only a few tourists and park rangers were at the observation decks to cheer as the ice crashed into water. About 5,000 tourists came to the park on Saturday to witness the dam collapsing, but according to the rangers, the movement of the ice that began on Wednesday did not turn into an avalanche until around 4:00a.m. (0700 GMT) when many tourists were sleeping.
Aerial view of Perito Moreno taken two weeks before collapse of glacier in 2004
Aerial view of Perito Moreno taken two weeks before collapse of glacier in 2004
Marianocecowski
The Telegraph reports, however, that about 2,500 tourists finally made it to the observation decks as the ice splashed into the water.
Large piece of ice collapses as the glacier advances
Large piece of ice collapses as the glacier advances
Calyponte (CC BY-SA 4.0)
A Glacier cave located on the northern end of the glacier
A Glacier cave located on the northern end of the glacier
Martin St-Amant
Several tonnes of ice fell off the 60-meter (200 foot) ice dam into Lago Argentina at the national park in southern Santa Cruz, AFP reports. The ice fall created a crash that was heard several kilometers away under heavy night rainfall.
A panorama of the north side of the glacier
A panorama of the north side of the glacier
Martin St-Armant
A park ranger Carlos Corvalan, said: "The noise was very great, it was coming down in buckets."
Perito Moreno is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Argentina and is one of the largest glaciers on the Patagonian ice cap.
AFP reports the glacier advances into the lake at a rate of 1.7 meters (5.5) per day in its central part and at intervals of time the dam it creates collapses.
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