It’s a mile wide.
Usually, icebergs look like jagged mountains floating on water. You know, like the one that sank the Titanic. However, NASA recently found an iceberg that looks completely different – one shaped like a rectangle.
The odd iceberg was discovered by the agency during Operation IceBridge last Tuesday, floating off the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.
According to a tweet by NASA, the iceberg seems like it had recently broken off the Larsen C shelf. Its unusually neat shape also suggests that it hasn’t significantly eroded yet.
From yesterday's #IceBridge flight: A tabular iceberg can be seen on the right, floating among sea ice just off of the Larsen C ice shelf. The iceberg's sharp angles and flat surface indicate that it probably recently calved from the ice shelf. pic.twitter.com/XhgTrf642Z
— NASA ICE (@NASA_ICE) October 17, 2018
But don’t put on your tin foil hats and go screaming “ANCIENT ALIENS!” just yet.
In an interview with LiveScience, scientist Kelly Brunt of the University of Maryland explained that these rectangular icebergs are not unusual.
“We get two types of icebergs: We get the type that everyone can envision in their head that sank the Titanic, and they look like prisms or triangles at the surface and you know they have a crazy subsurface,” she said. “And then you have what are called ‘tabular icebergs’.”
The latter, she explained, are formed when they split off the edges of their host ice shelves. Brunt compared it to a fingernail that’s grown too long and cracks off at the end – producing a sheet that has sharp, geometric edges.
Another example of a tabular iceberg is B-15, which was the world’s largest iceberg before it broke up into smaller icebergs. With a previous surface area of 11,000 square kilometres, it was larger than the whole island of Jamaica.