In addition to the horrible human catastrophe that is currently unfolding from the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that just struck Christchurch, New Zealand earlier today, the quake has apparently caused 30 million tons of ice to fall off the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s largest glacier.
Passengers of two explorer boats were reportedly hit with waves of up to 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) as a result of 30 million tons of ice crashing into Terminal Lake from Tasman Glacier in Aoraki Mountain Cook National Park today.
Luckily, when tourism managers in the area found out of the unstable conditions and seismic activity, they had good safety procedures ready to be implemented and everyone there is safe. “We have procedures to deal with this type of event and for some time have stayed 800 metres away from the Terminal Face as we suspected it was becoming unstable,” Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Village tourism manager Denis Callesen said.
This 30 million-ton ice dive was reportedly the 3rd-largest amount of ice to have fallen into Terminal Lake.
Terminal Lake is 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) long and 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) wide in some places. The earthquake epicenter was approximately 193 kilometers (120 miles) from the glacier.
Tasman Glacier has been receding in recent years, the same as most glaciers around the world in the midst of global warming. Perhaps this is one reason such a huge amount of ice was knocked off it by the earthquake. Of course, this huge loss of ice only speeds up its continual decline and will further increase the size of growing Terminal Lake.
Top Photo Credit: EmmaJG
Image Credit: USGS