Patagonian Ice Bridge Collapses in Spectacular Fashion

By George Dvorsky on at

An arched section of the Perito Moreno Glacier collapsed in front of thousands of awe struck spectators in Argentina early yesterday.

Some 3,000 tourists had gathered at the site in anticipation of the collapse. The Perito Moreno Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. It’s also one of the largest tourist attractions in the country. The massive ice formation is over 19 miles (30 km) in length, but the ice arch was a popular destination for sightseers who marvelled at the 820-foot-wide (250 metres) structure. But alas, it is no more.

Dramatic footage shows the ice bridge collapsing from a height of 230 feet (70 metres) into the river below, causing waves to swell and crash into the glacier.

Experts say the collapse has nothing to do with climate change, and that it’s a natural consequence of physics. According to Archimedes’s principle, the buoyant force exerted on a body immersed in fluid is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced. When that force causes the ice to detach from the shore, water starts to filter through, causing an irreversible breakdown.