The whole scale of Antarctica is so awesome that you can’t help but feel like just a tiny, insignificant part of the world when cruising beside enormous icebergs and sailing beside the huge ice sheets that cover most of the land mass. Here are a few more icebergs from our recent Antarctic journey with Quark Expeditions.But the magical part is viewing these beautiful creations of nature, especially when the sun is glistening off the ice or reflecting inner surfaces to produce a variety of effects and colors. Icebergs can contain shades white, blue, brown, green, and more—and their shapes are constantly changing. Icebergs can carry rocks and gravel within the ice, which may give them dark gray or black sections.
In the warming sun, the ice expands and can give off a variety of creaking or groaning sounds—or the loud bang and splash of a chunk breaking off (calving). A large berg can even create a tidal wave that washes up on shore or moves among other bergs causing even more noises.Icebergs may break off from glaciers (more common in the Arctic) or an ice shelf—the most likely means of formation in Antarctica. It’s estimated that 50 to 99 percent of an iceberg lies beneath the surface, which is totally hard to imagine. The amount below water is related to how much air is trapped in the ice, which affects its buoyancy.
Icebergs are composed of fresh water that started as snow accumulating over hundreds, even thousands, of years. The amount of air trapped between flakes and ice crystals determines layers, striations, and colors, so every iceberg is different.Mostly icebergs sit in the ocean bobbing around. Eventually they melt and erode, the balance-point changes, and the berg may crack or split. The result is an indescribably beautiful canvas of continually changing masses to enjoy but respect.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier