Scientists: March 11 tsunami produced Antarctic icebergs
Top image shows the Sulzberger Ice Shelf on March 12 and the bottom on March 16 after the tsunami broke off icebergs.
August 9th, 2011
09:40 AM ET

Scientists: March 11 tsunami produced Antarctic icebergs

The tsunami spawned from the March 11 earthquake off eastern Japan broke up parts of an Antarctic ice shelf that hadn't moved in 46 years, scientists say.

Though the tsunami waves were only about a foot high when they reached Antarctica, their consistency was enough to crack the 260-foot-thick ice and split off icebergs with combined surface areas more than twice the size of Manhattan from the Sulzberger Ice Shelf, the scientists report in a NASA statement.

It was the first time scientists have been able to tie icebergs directly to a tsunami, according to NASA.

The tsunami waves traveled 8,000 miles and took 18 hours to reach the ice shelf, the scientists said, giving them time to validate theories on how an earthquake can affect geography a hemisphere away.

"In the past we've had calving events where we've looked for the source. It's a reverse scenario - we see a calving and we go looking for a source," Kelly Brunt, a cryosphere specialist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in the NASA statement. "We knew right away this was one of the biggest events in recent history - we knew there would be enough swell. And this time we had a source."

Emile Okal at Northwestern University and Douglas MacAyeal at the University of Chicago collaborated in the study.

"This is an example not only of the way in which events are connected across great ranges of oceanic distance, but also how events in one kind of Earth system, i.e., the plate tectonic system, can connect with another kind of seemingly unrelated event: the calving of icebergs from Antarctica's ice sheet," MacAyeal said in the NASA statement.

Watch NASA video on the research

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Antarctica • Earthquake • Japan • NASA • Natural Disasters • Tsunami • World
soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. TexDoc78154

    This was clearly the direct result of Bush Policies and continues to be a problem because of the Tea Party.

    August 9, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 112321

    Talk about old news....this type of thing has been happening for billions of years....yaaaaaaaawn

    August 9, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wicket

      Wow, so if you're yawning over an event that, apparently you've personally witnessed for billions of years, you must not be too affected by the birth of your own child, the death of anyone you know, etc.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. jacob

    Take a look at CoolCent. c o m

    August 9, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Frank Pierce

    Would be a treat to read more articles like this then what I crash into usually.

    August 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Name*Mohamed Mohamed

    Amazing, if true

    August 9, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. D to the B

    no damnit you people got it all wrong, its bushs fault.

    August 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jules

    Jaydeebee56-I noticed the same thing! Thought I was crazy seeing as she's supposed to be so intelligent! LOL!

    August 9, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jules

    OK-can we all stop with the Global Warming!? That has nothing to do with earthquakes, volcanoes, or tsunamis. NOW-that said-a major volcanic eruption-such as Krakatoa or Pinatubo- can-and did- affect surface temperatures worldwide...thus affecting global weather patterns. But global warming itself does not have anything to do with plate tectonics. So-move on to your next bunk theory-like Michele Bachmann being an intelligent person.

    August 9, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. spaniard

    Well, I'm visiting california seaside and it's -ing cold. I want 5/10 degrees more and, in any case we MUST reduce pollution wether or not causes global warming for thousands of other reasons that you may guess. Anybody agree?

    August 9, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Seriously

    I miss when people could just read a article and post some legit comments, not all this BS I'm reading.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. Name*Mohammed

    لا إله إلا الله سبحان الله العظيم وسبحان الله وبحمده

    August 10, 2011 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bholanath Patra

    It is great thing to provide me for Tusame

    August 11, 2011 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
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