Huge chunks of ice have tumbled off Argentina’s Perito Moreno glacier -- a rare spectacle that prompted a vigil by hundreds of tourists.
Argentine television stations interrupted regular programming with live coverage of the break-up of the glacier known as the “White Giant,” which was caused by building water pressure in the lake that it extends across.
For days, tourists huddled on a platform facing the glacier, located in the far south. Pieces of the glacier finally broke off late Monday night.
“It was dark so we couldn’t see it, but we heard it,” said Carlos Corvalan, the head of Argentina’s National Glaciers Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Perito Moreno forms a natural ice dam extending across a part of the lake. Occasionally, rapidly flowing water beneath the ice leaves a fragile bridge that eventually collapses.
While many glaciers around the world are retreating, Perito Moreno is one of the few, if not the only one, expanding.
In 2004, a 200-foot high wall of Perito Moreno fell off. It was the first time the glacier had shed a significant piece since 1986, Argentine officials said.
Argentina’s National Glaciers Park is home to more than 200 glaciers and is the biggest continental ice extension in the world after Antarctica, according to the park’s Web site.