Argentina 2013: A Wonderful Hunt and Fantastic Vacation: Perito Moreno

by david on October 2, 2013

Friday June 7th, 2013

Today, the bus did not pick us up until 9:30.  We used the extra time to “sleep in” a little bit, and, boy, did it feel good.  We were headed back to the Perito Moreno glacier, except we went to the south face.  Our guide told us some interesting facts during the drive.  The glacier itself is 60 meters high, the north face is 2 kilometers long, and the south face is 1.5 kilometers long.  The surface area of the glacier is about 95 square miles.  Los Glaciares National Park itself is 2800 square miles.  The park was founded in 1937 and is home to 47 large glaciers and more than 200 smaller ones.  The Perito Moreno is not the largest but is the most famous because it is the most accessible.  It can be viewed by boat car and by foot.

It is also the only glacier to do something called fracturing.  In a nutshell, the Magellian peninsula divides the glacier into the Iceberg Fork / North Face and the Rico Fork / South Face.  The water flow from the Rico Fork to the Iceberg Fork normally keeps the glacier worn down and some 50-60 meters from land.  Every so many years, the glacier moves faster than its normal two meters per day and butts up against the peninsula.  Since the normal path for the water flow is blocked, the water pressure starts building up and raises the water level for miles.  This added water pressure will eventually wear a hole underneath the glacier and the water rushing through the opening turns the hole into a cave and, finally, a huge archway or ice bridge from the glacier to the peninsula.  The opening keeps getting larger and larger until the span is too great and a fracture occurs.  The resulting “Ice Age” cataclysmic event is supposedly something to behold.  Too bad we missed it.  The last fracture occurred in 2012.

Upon reaching our destination in the park, we boarded another boat for a “water’s eye” view of the South Face, rather than the North Face.  It was sort of the same as yesterday, but all of the new information put a new slant on things.  The trip was a little more interesting and beautiful, instead of just awe-inspiring like yesterday.

If you look closely at the bottom third of the picture on the right hand side you can see the marina where our boat trip started.  The glacier is in the background. If you look closely at the bottom third of the picture on the right hand side you can see the marina where our boat trip started. The glacier is in the background. A zoomed in view of Perito Moreno gives you a taste of just how big this piece of ice is.  A zoomed in view of Perito Moreno gives you a taste of just how big this piece of ice is.

 

 

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