Imploding iceberg in Antarctica

I love this video of an iceberg collapsing in on itself in Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica. (Word of warning, the people filming this loved the experience even more than I loved watching it, so much so that you may want to turn your speakers down.)

There are two kinds of icebergs, tabular and non-tabular. The tabular ones are what they sound like, big flat sheets of ice. Non-tabular are different—irregular shapes that become even more irregular as bits and pieces of them melt. Judging by the arched shape this iceberg had taken on, it probably falls into the non-tabular category. Implosion happens when melting weakens key structural support within that shape and bits of the iceberg begin to crash in on itself, accelerating the breakup. Both tabular and non-tabular icebergs and catastrophically fail like this, though.

Another fun iceberg fact: There are six size categories we sort icebergs by. Four of them have pretty predictable names: "Small", "Medium", "Large", and "Very Large". But below "small" are two size categories with a little more whimsy.

Icebergs with a hight of less than 3.3 feet and a length less than 16 feet are called "Growlers".

If the height shorter than 16 feet and the length shorter than 49 feet, then the iceberg is called, adorably, "a Bergy Bit". Yes, that is a technical term.

Via Pourmecoffee

Video Link


  1. I hope covering half of it with an ad was worth it.

    LOL, if you go to watch it at YouTube, you even get a full preroll ad to boot!

    1. Actually when watching it on youtube I get no ads at all.  I’ve never gotten preroll ads on youtube, ever.  (No idea why, not a work computer or anything special.)

      1.  It was plastered with ads here too. Yay! Now I can see what google wants to sell instead of the actual vid I clicked on. Thanks!

    1. I’m not so sure.  This would be seriously impressive in person.  After being in an already surreal and impressive environment, this would be stunning.

      I think it’s just that crappy video dampens our view of how frickin’ cool the event was.

  2. Loved when the cheering suddenly goes to an “Oh, SHIT !!” silence, as the frosty bits start raining down around them – A silence that only lets up when they haul ass away from it.

  3. Beautiful video..though your note regarding tabular versus non-tabular could be expanded for clarity. Tabular icebergs are created when large flat ice shelf-like structures created as continental glaciers move down towards their margins, and which are likely to be found in antarctic waters or around Greenland where Ice Caps exist and where they break off into the ocean. In the process of breaking off they are subject to shape changing forces especially  the corrosive effects of moving sea water and so may loose that tabular shape and can become quite irregular as they erode, are exposed to weather, and get flipped around as they melt, which is what I think likely happened to the one in the video. Non-tabular ones of course mean that they are created as chunks breaking off from ice structures that are not big flat ice shelf like structures, such as alpine glaciers where they reach tideline, or in some cases into lakes, where the ice is all broken and irregular as a result of being transported through a glacial valley, often carrying rocks and other decorative products of erosion  along with it. These are the kinds of icebergs people might see on their summer cruise to Southeast Alaska, for instance…..and no doubt there are examples that are difficult to categorize without knowing more about their specific histories. They are all pretty interesting. Cheers.

      1. Given the level of technology of most video recording devices now, audio normalization/limiting should be standard (yet defeatable if so desired). 
        I almost wonder if someone was startled by it all and swallowed the mic…

        1. Yeah, I was surprised at how overdriven it was.  I’ve gotten so used to automatic compression and limiting in field recordings that I wasn’t prepared for how noisy that would be.  Even the falling clumps of ice sounded closer than they were.  Gain for days…

      2. Having spent a good amount of time watching calving glaciers in SE Alaska, big chunks of ice exploding are pretty frickin’ cool.  I share their enthusiasm.

    1. Implosion is a word that is often misused, such as when the controlled demolition of a tall building is called an implosion.  Collapse is a more accurate term for sure.

  4. I love observing in groups of humans what I imagine are deeply buried instincts, which I think are also influenced by modern culture. If you look at it objectively, there is absolutely no gain or incentive from screaming like lunatics. Yet they do. Are we built to make warning sounds when something unusual and/or big happens? The influence of modern culture could be that, with all due respect, Americans seem to make substantially more noise than, for example, Europeans.

    Similarly, it boggles me why during quiet moments in concerts, people feel a need to scream – some complex-based need to identify with the performer in front of the public?

    Anyway, I’m no psychologist, so this is just sheer speculation and gross generalisation by an idle mind. Just very interesting, that’s all.

    1. Fight or flight response, the yelling focuses the person’s attention / energy / adrenaline? Similar to why yelling seems to help breaking boards or otherwise focusing an attack in martial arts?

      1. I imagine it could also stem from things like our distant ancestors hunting in packs to take down large game or predators.

        If you look at examples of hunting-centric societies even in modern times, the behavior exists there too. People like First Nations or the  Zulu were famous for their war cries, as well as for their superb ambushing tactics. They would be quiet and stealthy until the trap was sprung, then roar their heads off as they overwhelmed the enemy.

        And when the fight is won, what do humans anywhere do? We shout in victory! But not the same sort of shout as before – it’s subtley different. Instead of serving to threaten or confuse the foe, it serves to transition from combat to post-combat behavior. It informs allies that the fight is won, tells them to regroup and rally, in the case of the hunt to help manage the kill, in the case of war to take prisoners and tend to the wounded, and also offers a form of shared communal experience. It’s not just the leader who yells – everyone does!

    2. Social vocalizing is pretty common in pretty much all social animals. Whooping at the iceberg is probably similar to a warning call, but is more likely to be a simple “heads up” sort of behavior. The idea is to get everyone in the group looking the same direction, then they can all reach a decision on how to respond.

      The bit about Americans and Europeans is beyond me. I haven’t spent enough time touring Europe to form a solid opinion on that. I’ve always heard that German tourists make a substantial amount of racket. The reasons for boorish behavior are varied; it could be an overcompensation for knowing you’re out of your element, or it could be a straightforward assertion of dominance. It depends on how stupid the individual is, I suppose.

      1. Having seen plenty of Northern Europeans vacationing in Southern Europe, I find American travelers to be polite and modest.

        1. Yeah, you’re right. I just avoid locations where Northern Europeans vacation in Southern Europe like the plague. I remember seeing that on YouTube. Good point about Americans – they are indeed always polite and modest, they just speak a lot louder, which probably has nothing to do with any of what I wrote. Well… so that’s that for generalisations.

  5. “Grandpa, where were you when Global Climate Change was happening?”
    “Why, I was drinking vodka on a pleasure cruise, watching the icebergs melt.”

    1.  With iceberg icecubes of course! :-) That deep blue of those cubes is just so, erm, cool. I must say though that the thought of primordial microbes in the cubes did freak me out a bit. I hear the glacier from which the cubes came has now receded to the point where the boats cannot get to it anymore [that was in Patagonia].

  6. The shouting is because they are suddenly rocked by the wave coming from the splashdown. It was probably pretty exciting and maybe actually scary.

    You, know, they could probably smell the water, too. They were not watching a video.

  7. That’s awesome. Surprised there wasn’t more of a wave. We saw something similar when we were on a research trip in Antarctica, and half the ship nearly died standing on the back deck with our tongues hanging out. Luckily some faster-thinking person got everyone inside and accounted for. Video shot from the bridge:
    She also uploaded two other videos from other decks.

  8. It is interesting to consider where the shouting stems from. I think it can be traced, or rather our reaction to the shouting, can be traced to the fact that the video is just not communicating the scale of the event. The shouting suggests a real adrenaline rush and it is nearly everyone. The pilot of the boat takes off and keeps going long past the point of danger. Maybe it is a lack of build up in the sound track that fools us. We are so blind to being manipulated by media that we don’t recognize relatively raw information when it reaches us.

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