Swiss Fear Vast Glacier Chunk Might Fall

There's a massive crack in the ice
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2011 10:07 AM CDT
Jungfrau peak is seen in this aerial view of the Bernese alps.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Swiss authorities have blocked off hiking trails near the Giesen glacier in the Bernese Alps and sent a crisis team to monitor it, for fear that it’s about to shed a slab of ice the size of 12 football fields. A huge crevasse has been discovered in the glacier, and while so far only small pieces of ice are falling, there’s a possibility of the whole thing fracturing and sending massive torrents of ice plummeting, the AFP reports.

“We do not know how thick the ice is, so we do not know the volume of water that could be generated if it melts,” said the head of the crisis team. “At the moment, the danger is not so great as it is going to get colder. … But we are observing the situation on a daily basis." The nearby Lauterbrunnen commune has already issued a warning. It's not uncommon for parts of glaciers to break off, though this one would be unusually large.

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