Alien Altar? NASA Spots a Perfectly Rectangular Antarctic Iceberg

Perfectly cubic pyrite crystals on marlstone. Image credits Carles Millan

While most of us think of icebergs as pointy chunks of ice with their spires sticking out of the water, these tabular icebergs are quite different.

These are flat and long and form by splitting away from the edges of ice shelves. A flight for Operation IceBridge captured the photo. Sitting amid a chaotic jumble of floating ice, it looks perfectly rectangular, as though it was deliberately cut.

"I was actually more interested in capturing the Delaware-sized A68 iceberg that we were about to fly over, but I thought this rectangular iceberg was visually interesting and fairly photogenic, so on a lark, I just took a couple photos", Dr. Harbeck said.

Why?: Kelly Brunt, an ice scientists from NASA, told Live Science there's a reason for the iceberg appearing like a flawless rectangle. She added that these flat-topped and angular ice sheets are typically wider than they are deep, and can span hundreds of miles across.

Though scientists in Antarctica regularly spot these steep-walled "tabular" icebergs - many almost square or rectangular - they certainly look like weird, unnatural forms in such a wild Earth environment.

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As NASA's Operation IceBridge missions (which survey Antarctica from 1,500 above) recently observed, this iceberg was surrounded by other tabular slabs, freshly calved into the frigid sea.

Scientists from the European Space Agency wrote in September, 'Sea ice to the east and shallow waters to the north kept this giant berg, named A68, hemmed in.

"This one came from the crumbling Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula". Floating in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica, this iceberg is roughly a mile across, the BBC reports, with 90% of its mass hidden below the surface.

The calving of the huge iceberg reduced the size of the ice shelf by 12%. As climate change continues to warm temperatures at the poles, scientists are increasingly concerned that Antarctica is melting.

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