Brutal and inspiring in equal measure, Argentina’s massive Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the world’s finest.
Situated in the Los Glaciares National Park, near El Calafate, in the Argentine province of Santa Cruz, the icy mass has a quirk: every four years the hulking structure sheds an ice arch.
Thousands of tons of ice crashing into the lake below makes for exciting viewing. And many people make the trip especially to watch.
On Sunday, Perito Moreno began this recurring spectacular. Lumps of packed ice began to fall from the underside of the arch, which connects the glacier to the shore of Argentino Lake.
When the glacier forms, a dam of ice cuts off the flow of water around it into the lake. That is, until the water breaks through, opening a increasingly wide tunnel that eventually becomes a narrow arch.
Eventually, with nothing left to support it, the arch crumbles, sending towering waves rolling across the usually still surface of the lake.
Perfectly formed: The Perito Moreno glacier measures 19 miles long and has a total area of nearly 100 square miles. Ruptures occur around every four to five years after the glacier forms a dam over the southern arm of the lake. Water in the dammed section rises up to create pressure that eventually breaks through
Crashing down: The once-every-four-years phenomenon was captured on camera on March 11
Inconceivably large: Around 700,000 tourists visit the Los Glaciares National Park, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, every year
The imposing glacier, near the southern town of El Calafate, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field shared with Chile which is the third largest ice concentration in the world after the North and South Poles
The largest glacier is the 31-miles-long and nearly five-miles-wide Upsala Glacier, but the Perito Moreno glacier, named after a 19th century explorer, is the most famous
The Patagonian glacier, known as the ‘White Giant’, sends impressive waves surging into the Argentino Lake as it falls
Guided treks can be taken on the ice itself ranging from one to five hours – or if going on the glacier is too ominous, visitors can negotiate a walking circuit from the visitor centre to see the spectacular southern and eastern edges
The glacier stands starkly against the rocky backdrop of the mountains of the Argentinian province of El Calafata
Unlike most glaciers, which are retreating, Perito Moreni is advancing. Experts are still unsure as to what it is exactly about the glacier that has made it so resistant to climate change
End of the rainbow: Viewing platforms allow visitors to watch from a safe distance, overlooking Lake Argentino, the glacier’s terminus. Sightseers can get so close they can almost feel the glacier breathing cold air on their face