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HALLOWEEN CRACK AND ICEBERG CALVING ON THE BRUNT ICE SHELF



  May 31, 2024

HALLOWEEN CRACK AND ICEBERG CALVING ON THE BRUNT ICE SHELF



What is Halloween Crack?

The Halloween Crack is a significant rift in the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica. It was first identified on October 31, 2016, which is why it was named the Halloween Crack. This crack runs from an area known as the McDonald Ice Rumples, where the underside of the floating ice sheet is grounded on the shallow seabed. This grounding slows the flow of ice and creates fractures on the ice surface.

Recent Calving Event

Recently, a large iceberg named A-83, measuring approximately 375 square kilometers, broke off from the Brunt Ice Shelf. This event marks the third significant iceberg calving from this region in the past four years. The iceberg was first observed off the Brunt Ice Shelf in the eastern Weddell Sea. Although iceberg calving is a natural process, the Brunt Ice Shelf, like other regions in Antarctica, is experiencing pressures from low sea ice conditions. Reduced sea ice increases the exposure of ice shelves to destabilizing wind and wave action, contributing to calving events.

The Stability and Potential of Halloween Crack

The Halloween Crack, currently stable, runs adjacent to the more precarious tip of the Brunt Ice Shelf. This tip is now held in place by a narrow strip of ice approximately 600 meters long. If this strip of ice gives way, it could spawn a massive iceberg measuring around 1750 square kilometers.

The McDonald Ice Rumples, which are the result of ice flowing over an underwater obstruction, play a crucial role in this region. The bedrock rises high enough to reach into the underside of the floating ice shelf, impeding the flow of ice and causing pressure waves, crevasses, and rifts to form on the surface of the ice shelf.



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