icebergs and ice shelves

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bergy bit

large chunk of glacier ice (a very small iceberg) floating in the sea; bergy bits are usually less than 5 meters (15 feet) in size and are generally spawned from disintegrating icebergs.

bottom bergs

icebergs that originate from near the bottom of a glacier; the color is usually black from trapped rock material or dark blue because of old, coarse, bubble-free ice; they sit low in the water due to the weight of the embedded rocks.


break off from a larger ice shelf or ice sheet into the water.


process by which ice breaks off a glacier's terminus; usually the term is reserved for tidewater glaciers or glaciers that end in lakes, but it can refer to ice that falls from hanging glaciers.
Ice pinnacle separating from Perito Moreno Glacier. (Photo courtesy of Martyn Clark.)

calving glacier

glacier that loses material by calving, usually a glacier that terminates in sea, lake, or river water.

fluted berg

an iceberg that is grooved into a curtain-like pattern; thought to be carved by small meltwater streams.

glacier tongue

an extension of a glacier or ice stream projecting seaward, usually afloat.


an iceberg less than 2 meters (6.6 feet) across that floats with less than 1 meter (3.3 feet) showing above water; smaller than a bergy bit.

ice fringe

a very narrow ice piedmont, extending less than about 1 km inland from the sea.

ice front

the vertical cliff forming the seaward face of an ice shelf or other floating glacier, varying in height from 2 to 50 meters (2.2 to 55 yards) above sea level.