They call it the “White Giant” but its real name is Perito Moreno Glacier, one of more than 200 glaciers found in Glaciers Park in Patagonia, Argentina. For eons, it has been advancing at a rate of about one meter per day. Some years this 18-mile long river of ice advances across Lake Argentina, splitting it in two and creating a natural dam. Eventually water behind the glacier rises and, seeking equilibrium, tunnels beneath the glacier. Slowly, the warmer lake waters carve a giant hole through the glacier, leaving only a narrow ice bridge across the top. When the bridge becomes unstable giant chunks of ice begin to calve from the glacier. Towering plumes of water and mist explode from the lake whenever these mini icebergs plunge into the lake, 200 feet below.
Tourists come from all over the world to stand on an adjacent viewing platform to witness the spectacle. Prior to 2004, the bridge had not collapsed for 16 years. Since then, this finger of the glacier has advanced and collapsed three times: in the summer of 2004 and again in the summer of 2006. The most recent occurrence was in the winter of 2008, the first time the bridge has ever fallen during the colder winter months. Some attribute this to global warming, although unlike many glaciers around the world, Perito Moreno is not retreating. This most recent collapse happened so fast that TV stations were unable to get there in time to film it and the only available footage was taken by a tourist. Take a look at the three minute video of this latest event: