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Antarctica's new 1.1-trillion-ton iceberg is already breaking into pieces

Business Insider logo Business Insider 6 days ago Dave Mosher

antarctica larsen c ice shelf rift crack nov 2016 john sonntag nasa gsfc.JPG © Provided by Business Insider antarctica larsen c ice shelf rift crack nov 2016 john sonntag nasa gsfc.JPG

Earlier this week, a crack in Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf caused a 1.1-trillion-ton block of ice to calve, forming a colossal iceberg roughly the area of Delaware.

Just days after breaking off the continent, the iceberg, now dubbed A68, has broken into two pieces.

"A68 is starting to lose some chunks already! Still an enormous berg though," Martin O'Leary, a glaciologist at Swansea University, wrote in a tweet early Friday morning for the Antarctic research program Project MIDAS.

After years of lengthening and widening, the rift in the Larsen C ice shelf grew rapidly in the past year, and birthed the iceberg sometime between July 10 and July 12. When it calved, the iceberg was the third largest ever recorded. 

The U.S. National Ice Center tracks and unceremoniously assigns icebergs their names based on location and order of discovery. When sizable icebergs break off a main iceberg, they take the same name with added letters.

When it calved, iceberg A68 had more than double the volume of Lake Erie in the Great Lakes.

Where A68 goes from here — and when it melts — is anyone's guess at this point. However, the process could take years, as it has for similarly large icebergs.


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