Christchurch, New Zealand Quake Knocks 30 Million Tons of Ice off Glacier

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.

More Info on Christchurch, New Zealand Quake from USGS & Other Earthquake Experts

Top Photo Credit: EmmaJG
Image Credit: USGS

3 thoughts on “Christchurch, New Zealand Quake Knocks 30 Million Tons of Ice off Glacier”

  1. Hi, you are incorrect in attributing glacial retreat to global warming. Glaciation responds to localised climatic conditions and influences primarily, broader climatic influences subsequently. For example, Kiliminjaro is often incorrectly cited as a “poster boy”of climate change – whereas Kiliminjaro’s loss of permanent ice is attributed to decreased precipitation through deforestation by agriculture in the surrounding countryside. There is no evidence that glaciers, worldwide, are responding in any common fashion to global climatic pattern, regardless of whether or not there is a global climatic pattern. This is not to say that there have never been periods, for example, ice ages, when global climatic patterns have been the dominant glacial drivers.

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