Argentina’s Unique Glacier
“YOU must go and see it.” “It is one of the wonders of the world.” We had been sent to Buenos Aires to help build new facilities for the Watch Tower Society’s branch, but it was encouragement like this that prompted my husband and me to take a trip to Glaciers National Park in the south of Argentina to see a unique glacier called Perito Moreno.
Eventually, we arrived at the Andes, its foothills covered with trees. The road ran along the Rico arm of Lake Argentino. Soon we reached the end of a peninsula where the waterway bends into the lake. Halfway across the channel loomed Perito Moreno—a wall of ice over two and a half miles [4 km] wide and more than 160 feet [50 m] high. What a breathtaking sight!
This river of ice, Perito Moreno, may advance as much as 15 feet [4 m] a day or 1,500 feet [450 m] a year! We could not resist taking photographs as the sun sparkled on the blue crystals. Why blue? Because of the weight of the snow, no air is left in the grains of ice, so the glacier takes on a transparent bluish color. Something else that caught our attention was the unusual sounds. We could hear the rumbling of 75 square miles [195 sq km] of glacier moving slowly down the valley and the cracking sound of large chunks of ice breaking free from the face of the glacier. These hit the water with a sound like thunder.
Every few years the advance of Perito Moreno blocks the natural drainage of the Rico arm into Lake Argentino. On the one side, the impounded waters rise from 65 to 110 feet [20 to 35 m] above their natural level. Eventually, the pressure of the water overcomes the ice, and Perito Moreno produces a dramatic spectacle as the water bursts through.
The calm waters of the lake are turned into a raging sea. This lasts for hours. “Enormous ice fragments larger than a 15-story building break loose from the glacier’s walls and fall with a deafening clatter,” explained the television documentary La Guerra Del Hielo. “Everybody shouts and jumps, accompanying this incredible evidence of nature’s powers.”
How happy we were that our friends had urged us to come and see Perito Moreno!—Contributed.