BUENOS AIRES – The icy arch that the Perito Moreno glacier formed over the Magellan Peninsula of Argentino Lake collapsed at night over the weekend, depriving tourists and scientists of the chance to witness the natural event in southern Argentina, environmental officials said on Monday.
The rupture, considered one of the world’s most awesome natural events, occurred in Los Glaciares National Park, located in the southern province of Santa Cruz, at 10:48 pm on Sunday.
The process, which began on Saturday and had not happened since March 2016, usually attracts hundreds of tourists who were unable to observe the giant white bridge’s rupture this time because the area was closed overnight for public safety reasons.
The rupture is caused by lake waters’ increasing pressure on a natural dam or bridge that Perito Moreno builds up as it advances over the rocky shore.
Cracks develop in the natural dam until it bursts, providing observers with an impressive spectacle.
Last Saturday, park officials said a leak had been spotted in the ice wall and it was “becoming more visible and voluminous to the point that we can confirm that the rupture process of the Perito Moreno glacier has begun.”
Ruptures occur most often at the end of the Southern Hemisphere summer, but sometimes they happen in winter.
The Perito Moreno glacier, covering some 200 sq. kilometers (77 sq. miles), is located in the Andean ridge, the natural border between Argentina and Chile, and it is one of the few glaciers in the world that remain stable and without erosion as a result of climate change.
The glacier’s 60-meter (198-foot) front wall, as tall as a 20-story building, is five kilometers (3.1 miles) wide.
The glacier was named to honor Francisco Moreno (1852-1919), who explored the southern regions of Argentina and served as director of the Argentine Scientific Society’s museum.