It’s jarring to see nature make something with ruler-edged straight lines. Especially when those straight-lined things are massive icebergs hundreds and hundreds of yards long. Which is just what has happened in Antarctica, and NASA is all over the scene taking pictures and causing a social media sensation.
This iceberg, looking at least in part like a fallen monolith from 2001, calved from the Larsen C ice shelf. It’s called a tabular iceberg, a variety of icebergs that unsurprisingly have steep sides and flat tops, but aren’t typically so uniformly rectangular. This particular example was discovered on October 16, and the perfectly squared-off end means it was likely calved very recently.
NASA is monitoring the area as part of its Operation Icebridge program, a study of the polar regions and how they’re being affected by climate change. IceBridge senior scientist Jeremy Harbeck was the first to spot this frozen table top floating around Antarctica. “I thought it was pretty interesting,” said Harbeck in a NASA statement. “I often see icebergs with relatively straight edges, but I’ve not really seen one before with two corners at such right angles like this one had.”