Mysterious 'perfectly rectangular' iceberg breaks off Antarctica

Hamish Pritchard | British Antarctic Survey via AP

But for now, it's in near-perfect shape - even if we can't quite see the entire slab.

It looks so ideal that it seems Photoshopped - but a unusual perfectly rectangular iceberg near Antarctica is a natural phenomenon, NASA scientists say.

NASA's Operation IceBridge, which monitors polar ice using plane surveys, has been going on for a decade.

A typical large iceberg that breaks off an ice shelf, called a "tabular" iceberg, will have a flat top and steep sides like the one spotted by IceBridge.

Scientists have documented this sort of thing before, but this latest 'berg, which recently split from Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf, happens to be a rather extraordinary example.

An iceberg recently spotted by NASA scientists looks like it was carefully cut into a flawless rectangle, and it's getting a lot of attention because of those unexpected angles and straight lines.

"The 'bergs detaching from Larsen C are so big, they look perfectly rectangular or with linear features because they were created from rifts that run across the ice shelf for hundreds of kilometres straight", he notes. We get the type that everyone can envision in their head that sank the Titanic, and they look like prisms or triangles at the surface and you know they have a insane subsurface.

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Last summer an iceberg known as A-68 detached itself and had a surface area of over 2,000 miles.

The ice shelf is about 1,100ft thick and floats on the edge of West Antarctica.

She said there were two types of iceberg.

Brunt observed that the square-like iceberg appeared new at the time because its edges still looked sharp-signs that wind and water had not done their jobs of eroding the iceberg's surface.

Although it's often said that there are no straight lines or ideal 90-degree angles in nature, they do happen, albeit rarely.

The size was hard to guess, Ms Brunt said, but suggested it was likely more than a mile long.

As with regular icebergs, just 10 percent of its mass is visible in the picture, though the subsurface mass is would look similar to what's visible above.

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