mar 03 2008

A marbled iceberg

Published by at 6:56 pm under Stories from the sea

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64 responses so far

64 Responses to “A marbled iceberg”

  1. Lynneon 04 mar 2008 at 12:17 am

    That’s beautiful! I’ve never seen a photo of an iceberg looking like that before. It makes me wonder if it looked that way before it broke away from the glacier it came from.

  2. A.on 04 mar 2008 at 7:34 pm

    From about one third way down the page:
    «This striped iceberg originally formed by horizontal layers of snow depositing and compressing into a glacier, which broke off a floating chunk into the ocean. Differential melting and wave erosion caused the iceberg to roll onto its side, flipping the horizontal layers into the vertical lines seen here.»

    It’s really beautiful whatever the reason!

  3. moon 04 mar 2008 at 7:37 pm

    No fish! Blasphemy!

    That is one of the coolest pictures I’ve ever seen – how wonderful is nature to make something so beautifully unique!
    Thanks for sharing the pictures with us!

  4. adminon 04 mar 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks for comments Morgen and Lynne; and thank you A. for giving information about this phenonemon!

  5. blueyeson 05 mar 2008 at 2:37 am

    That’s an awesome picture. At first I figured you were trying to get us and it might’ve been some odd nature thing with it being a whale.

  6. adminon 05 mar 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I posted the same photos on my Norwegian blog, and the first comment was «PHOTOSHOP!! say no more!». I can assure you that the two photos in the post are real.

  7. Joyon 07 mar 2008 at 7:06 am

    Wow! Excellent photos. I’ve never seen a marbled iceberg. My first thought was — oil spill!

  8. chillyon 08 mar 2008 at 1:44 am

    Never heard of a marbled iceburg. To cool!
    BTW: Great blog!

  9. Øyvindon 08 mar 2008 at 9:24 am

    Its awesame, it looks like candy! :)

  10. adminon 08 mar 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks for nice comments. I have to admit that the name «Marbled iceberg» may not be the correct name of such an iceberg. It was something I made up as I didn’t know what to call it. If it gets a name in Latin I hope it may be something like «Marblus Isbergus Tangus» (after me) :)

  11. Lison 08 mar 2008 at 8:04 pm

    That’s an interesting looking iceberg. Reminds me of ice-cream!

  12. Daveon 09 mar 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Hi everybody,

    I didn’t think that icebergs moved quickly enough to have a wake frothing up behind them!(see both photos) Waves breaking on one end? Maybe but the sea looks to have no more than a ripple, not a wave in sight!
    Sorry, just my paranoia kicking in.

  13. adminon 09 mar 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Is it this part of the photos you are referring to? Here are two close-ups. Believe it or not!
    iceberg zoomed
    Marbled iceberg 2

  14. Bente Lilja Byeon 09 mar 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Have you contacted geoscientists? I’m sure they would be very interested.

  15. adminon 09 mar 2008 at 11:11 pm

    There are geologists on board the research vessel. Below you can see a photo of R/V «G.O.Sars» and R/V «Fridtjof Nansen» in Cape Town a few days before the survey started (late february).
    Norwegian research vessels

    Another photo of the «marbled iceberg» has now been published on (The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research). The text is in Norwegian. See:
    Finally something that can verify the photos (?) :)

  16. slimon 10 mar 2008 at 6:26 am

    mmm that iceberg looks like big foot wiped his poo bum with it

  17. Brenton Brighton 10 mar 2008 at 6:33 am

    The wake and frothing up behind them that you have noticed is caused by the end of the iceberd being just below the surface. So as it bobs up and down with the swell (very hard to see) it creates the froth.

  18. Brynon 10 mar 2008 at 11:47 am

    What a gorgeous natural phenomenon. It puts me in mind of the «marbling» effect you get when you start mixing two different coloured clays together. Lovely!

  19. daveon 11 mar 2008 at 1:43 am

    the «wake» behind the iceberg is not only the iceberg bobbing up and down as mentioned, but also the surface waves being dissapated as they move over this shallower area.

  20. Geo canuckon 11 mar 2008 at 6:46 am

    Beautiful. Just like a marble. The light layers contain air bubbles that are trapped as snow is deposited and becomes ice. The deep blue layers appear to be ice without air bubbles, suggesting formation from liquid water instead of snow -perhaps deposited during the autumn during events of mixed snow and rain.

  21. offplanetnowon 12 mar 2008 at 10:09 am

    very beautifull, but it scares the $#!t out of me. those layers would only form on land. that means that the melting has reached a point where the sea ice is no longer holding back the land ice. in my expeirience the more beautifull the more dangerous.

  22. Neil Hon 12 mar 2008 at 4:42 pm

    These pictures are stunning! Well done…

    Do you have the high resolution versions available??

    I can only guess that this is caused by different degrees of compression within the ice and snow over many thousands of years…

  23. adminon 12 mar 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Yes Neil! I have the original photos, but I promised the photographer to just publish in low resolution. Today I received a couple of other iceberg-photos from the Antarctic Ocean. I’ll publish them in a couple of days. Now I am writing a post about the bluefin tuna.

  24. chazhon 12 mar 2008 at 7:14 pm

    I have to agree with offplanetnow. I thought this was beautiful at first, (and then something about a stranded UFO came to mind… odd) But then something deeply disturbing occurred to me – this looks just like cliff rock at the beach. This is definately, as offplanetnow said, something that has been formed on land.

    If this isn’t a beautiful wake-up call that global warming is coming on fast, I don’t know what is…

  25. JGSon 12 mar 2008 at 9:42 pm

    As a glacier moves it cuts into the land. The results are deposited on the sides of the glacier (called moraine). Sometimes it is carried with the glacier and deposited when the glacier ends or melts (called terminal moraine). It is possible this is formed by moraine.

  26. Dianeon 12 mar 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Wow! That’s so pretty! I’m impressed whatever it is that’s made it look like that!

  27. Cesaron 12 mar 2008 at 10:37 pm

    offplanetnow spelled out my concern beautifully. I found this not too long ago I read in the Globe and Mail recently (2 weeks tops) that scientists working on climate change research have asserted that their findings from 2007 are already obsolete with regards to Greenland ice sheet melting, since the pace has accelerated so quickly. Also, Greenland is the first instance known of melting ice causing earthquakes, 3 on the Richter scale!

  28. Stephen Warrenon 12 mar 2008 at 11:10 pm

    This is an iceberg containing stripes of «marine ice». The stripes originated from crevasses in the iceberg (probably bottom-crevasses on an ice shelf) that filled with seawater which then froze. Most of the iceberg consists of bubbly bright ice which was formed by compression of snow; that’s why it has so many bubbles that make it bright; the dark stripes were formed by freezing of liquid water. We saw such striped icebergs in October 1996 near Davis Station. See my 1993 paper on green icebergs, which you can find at; the stripes are mentioned briefly at the top of page 6927. We cite Wordie and Kemp (1933) who may have been the first to publish a report of striped icebergs. [Wordie had been a member of Shackleton’s Endurance expedition.]

  29. maybeon 13 mar 2008 at 7:53 am

    Stephen Warren (above) got it. The difference between the thick «snow white» layers and the thin dark blue layers, is the presence and absence of trapped oxygen & maybe other gases respectively ..?

  30. adminon 14 mar 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for all the comments. I have now published a new «iceberg-post». This time it is a striped iceberg.

  31. Danielon 15 mar 2008 at 3:20 am

    The wake was likely the berg bobbing, and if you ask me thats oil
    …. Exxon Valdez

  32. nertilaon 15 mar 2008 at 11:38 am

    Hi admin! Your photo with the iceberg is awful.
    I’ve never seen something like that.. Do we know how many years does it exist?

  33. Taraon 16 mar 2008 at 9:25 pm

    I think that is beautiful! I’ve never seen anything like it.

  34. yoxxon 17 mar 2008 at 10:01 am


  35. YXHon 17 mar 2008 at 1:55 pm


  36. Michaelon 17 mar 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I don’t know diddle about ice burgs, but I do know that that is a beautiful photograph.
    As far as how it originated my layman’s guess would be that it began its life at the tip of a fyord. The strips are suggestive of run off layers from numerous spring melts. You could probably gauge the annual rain fall from the different layer sizes. The only question would be though is which side is up?
    Nice pictures.

  37. Kimberly Edwardson 17 mar 2008 at 7:29 pm

    These are gorgeous…How unique? Nature never ceases to amaze me!

    Thank you for sharing!!!

    Kimberly ;D

  38. Mari305on 19 mar 2008 at 6:04 am

    Came across this too. Hope this is helpful.

  39. Maggieon 20 mar 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Congratulations for ‘offplanetnow’ to be the first to get it. That hunk of ice is OLD! The layered structure indicates that it formed on land and persisted through many different climatic conditions. Yup, it’s beautiful but it’s scary too.

  40. Pattoon 21 mar 2008 at 11:17 am

    Why no closeup pictures? I mean, the “G.O.Sars” is a research vessel, so they should have taken pictures much closer to this iceberg with much more detail, right?

  41. Gompon 21 mar 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Patto, they did.. Read what is said? He was sent many many pictures from his dad, or who it was, and only published a few, in low res..

    The one who took them probably would like to be the first to report it fully.

  42. Pattoon 22 mar 2008 at 2:08 am

    Gomp; Yes, I read what the admin wrote above, but he doesn’t say anything about closeup pictures, just that the original ones are of a much higher resolution.

    I just hope the researchers got the chance to take a few samples of this phenomena, and maybe high-res pictures from about a few feets away :o

    I haven’t read anything about taking samples and such, so please correct me if I’m wrong! :-)

  43. Einaron 23 mar 2008 at 1:18 am

    Being a scientist on marine algal pigments, I guess most (maybe all?) of the coloured stripes in the candy-coloured iceberg can be due to algal growth, whether under floating ice or in water dams on top of the ice. Such microalgae can vary from dark red through brownish orange, brownish yellow and to various green colours.

    The pigments are excellent preserved in frozen algal cells, and should therefore be intact within the ice. The pigments will be destroyed by light, in air and in melted slurry of icealgae, but as the ice melts, it will be washed away, so preserved algal pigments will appear in the ice below the layer that melted.

    I do not know any alga that has a bright blue colour, but ice itself can apprear as blue, if frozen under the right conditions. This should be the reasonable explanation for the iceberg with the thick, clear blue layer.

  44. lena ;)on 23 mar 2008 at 3:42 am

    Oooooh!!!! A Candy Whale!! ;P hahaha… Nice.. :)

  45. adminon 23 mar 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Thanks for all comments. Sorry for not answering right away. I have been away for some days and I had no access to Internett. I do not have the answers regarding the colors of the iceberg. The comment from Einar is a better answer than I can give.
    Some of you want to see closeups. What you see here is (unfortunately!) the only two photos the photographer got of the marbled iceberg. The vessel (G.O.Sars) was not on an «iceberg-survey». The course was set before the survey started, and no captain would have turned that kind of ship around (aborting all ongoing tasks on board) to take closeups of a strange iceberg. If the course is changed it is because the vessel is too close to an iceberg.
    G. O. Sars
    The photos of the icebergs were taken with a fujifilm finpix 6900 camera, using full zoom (10x).

  46. Martin Hovlandon 24 mar 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Thiis is the photo of ythe year!
    I think it may represent an old corroded iceberg, which has been sailing around in the Antarctic for some time. The coloured stripes must represent impurities in the ice and snow that fell on the Antarctic continent perhaps a thousand years ago. The red hue could be from dust that came from other continents, for example dust from Namibia, whereas the other colours are other types of impurities.
    It would be interesting to have analysed a sample from each of these layers.

  47. adminon 24 mar 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Thanks for interesting comment Martin! I don’t know how the colors got there, so you may be right!?

  48. Neil Hon 24 mar 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Magnus

    I think your readers might be interested in what the Times newspaper in London had to say about the marbled iceberg…

    The best explanation so far I think (albeit the most unpalatable!).

    Wonderful blog. Keep up the good work!


  49. Kellyon 30 mar 2008 at 5:23 am

    Beautiful. The way those lines come together remind me of the lines on an agate.

  50. Bitterflyon 31 mar 2008 at 1:09 am

    Cool to look at. Though, not unlike patterns left in the ocean sands after an oil spill.

  51. Gary Stormon 31 mar 2008 at 2:30 am

    So Cool! Very scary though if you look at the close-ups of the wake, as if you look at the patterns between the two photo’s you can see how quickly the ‘berg is melting.

  52. Rashmion 05 apr 2008 at 3:41 am

    Very nice. I like the clarity of the picture of the ice berg. It must have been shot with a good camera. I would really like to dissect the ice layers and collect samples to see what they are made of. Can an ice berg be thousands of years old? Won’t it melt?

  53. adminon 08 apr 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for all comments. I have now published more pictures of the same iceberg. See them on this post.
    rainbow iceberg

  54. azsxon 10 apr 2008 at 1:43 pm

    It is natural beauty! I like it :)

  55. Angieon 12 apr 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Yes indeed, That was the neatest thing I have ever saw. My first thought was oil to. But marked with ash and salt, I never would have thought that a volcano did that. Very interesting photos.

  56. pete esson 19 mai 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Sorry, chaps, but I’m a bit nervous. A different-looking iceberg in 2008 after centuries of looking at them? Hate to be pessimist, but I’d look for a sinister explanation first, then celebrate if I was wrong.

  57. Rianneon 28 okt 2008 at 8:01 am

    This is great info to know.

  58. Hosting Provideron 12 feb 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Amazing .
    The colors are beautiful .

  59. geenon 13 feb 2009 at 10:30 am

    it is simply amazing

    i wanna blow it up

  60. sklep wedkarskion 17 feb 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Ciekawa strona, dodalem ja do ulubionych, zapraszam do odwiedzenia mojej

  61. Stellareon 21 apr 2009 at 6:09 am

    Here is your picture without credit. Thought you should know. I like it when people give credit to the rightful owner. :-)

    It is generally a popular picture so I have seen it tons of times around the internets, some give you credit, others don’t.

  62. Theresa I. M.on 15 jun 2009 at 12:48 am

    What a spectacular sight! I came across your site while checking out glaciers and icebergs. It’s really a frighteningly beautiful creation!

    I imagine that like land (rocks and cliffs)- icebergs, over time, create layers of not just ice but whatever else might have been in WITH that ice. The rocks of the ocean? How one can look at a rock and sometimes see layers, here we have icebergs and see the layers. Simply lovely! Okay–I’m going on and on…

    I love nature!

    Thank you so much for sharing this super cool pic!

  63. abalorioson 23 jun 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Its awesome!!, it looks like candy or a bead

  64. Paddle Pursuitson 09 mar 2014 at 7:37 pm

    This is an amazing photo! I would have loved to see this first hand.