Environment | Science | Local

UW Scientist Captures Strange Song Of Cracking Iceberg

Northwest News Network | Jan. 24, 2011 6:33 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:06 a.m. | Olympia, WA

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Here’s a sound you may not have heard before.  A University of Washington oceanographer has released a recording of the breakup of one of the largest icebergs ever observed in Antarctica.

Iceberg B-15A was 76 miles long and 17 miles wide - Photo by Josh Landis, National Science Foundation

If an iceberg cracks in Antarctica and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?  Now we know the answer is, in fact, yes.

That’s the sound of a giant iceberg breaking apart.  This one hit an underwater ridge off the coast of Antarctica.

UW oceanographer Seelye Martin wasn’t there, but did get data from a seismometer that was dropped onto the iceberg earlier.

Seelye Martin: “Seismologists love to speed up their music, I mean to speed up their seismic records.  In fact, they call it rock music.”

Martin says the sound youíre hearing represents about three and a half hours of data compressed into 2 minutes. 

Seelye Martin: “It reaches a climax.  Then you hear this kind of eerie harmonic noise which is the remnants, the pieces of the iceberg rubbing together.”

Martin says this iceberg before it broke apart was so big it could’ve covered most of Washington’s Puget Sound.


Full recording (1:52) produced by UW oceanographer Seelye Martin

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