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. Scarlet

    Oh, Michael, why don't you hush now.

    August 9, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • gfg

      global cooling! everyone go create some heat!

      August 9, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      So, twice the size of Manhattan. OK, I'll need a bigger glass for my Manhattan!

      August 9, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. JIM

    I think NAFTA and bank deregulation caused it. Now nobody has jobs. The jobs still here are being taken by immigrants that will work for pennies on the dollar.

    August 9, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      They're stealing your blond teenagers too.

      August 9, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      So, you are only qualified for the most menial jobs, the ones that those immigrants take. Too bad that you didn't learn a valuable skill set.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. MobiusEight

    How could it be anything other than global warming? Humans and humans alone are directly responsible for how this planet works, anything else is mere nonsense. Nonsense, I say!

    August 9, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • SDR

      The earth has been warming since the last iceage....wouldnt ya say?

      August 9, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • JG

      Actually, we're at the very tail end of the last ice age. In the Earth's natural state (such as when the dinosaurs roamed) there is no ice at the poles. The Earth's historic mean temperature is 15 degrees centigrade higher than what it is right now.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      The continents are still rebounding from the removal of the glaciers too.
      That said, the ONLY bone of contention with global warming is what amount is the human contribution. Since the GOP hates the notion of having industry cutting back on pollution at all, they decry the FACT of global warming.
      Meanwhile, the ice in this instance was well over 200 feet thick and broke because at the temperatures there, ice is extremely strong, but brittle. So, the tsunami moved the block up a foot and it snapped off.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. jacob

    our nature is unstoppable.. visit coolcent. com

    August 9, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joseph

    Clearly an act of oceanic terrorism.

    August 9, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I don't really care. MY ship can sail those waters safely, as it is unsinkable. That is why we have no lifeboats at all.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ihova

    Has Obama blamed the Tea party yet?

    August 9, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Tek

      No kididng right!

      August 9, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • D

      More to the point: have they blamed him for it yet?

      August 9, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. Marcelo V Silva

    I just wonder why it took so long for us to know such an important information. Couldn´t we know this in March or even April ? What took these scientists so long for letting us know it ? If this Antarctic ice shelf hadn't moved in 46 years they could have noticed earlier that IT WAS A VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION !
    Anyway, congratulations for the scientists who discovered it !

    August 9, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      I imagine it took a while to notice because, well, I'm tempted to think if something hasn't moved in 46 years, they aren't exactly staring at it all day waiting for that to change.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      First, they observe. Then, they confirm their observation. Then, they observe some more. Then, they write a paper on it.
      Then, there is peer review of the paper.
      SOMETIMES, the media actually catch on and report the story, usually months later, on a slow news day.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      The scientific process takes a bit of time. I'm surprised we learned this so quickly, rather than two years later...

      August 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. duke

    the earth will burst into flames one day!!!!

    August 9, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Yep, in about 750 million years, the sun will go red giant and the surface temperature at that point will be flaming. Then, even HOTTER.
      Then, the sun will engulf the Earth.
      I'll be on the beach on Europa.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. HelenHull102951

    We need more tsunamis. One in France,2 in asia, and a big one in mexico.

    August 9, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Emigdio

      Why?

      August 9, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • U-Turn

      Good surfing?

      August 9, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. Menemenetekelupharsin

    Some people will still be in denial when the water reaches their lower lip.

    August 9, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. Matt

    the sun grows hotter 6% every year, i am pretty sure that is what causes everything to warm up. All the other BS is propoganda

    August 9, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      What are you basing that claim on?

      August 9, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • U-Turn

      Apparently, Matt, your intelligence is inversly proportional to the formula you stated for the exponential growth od the sun's temperature.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Auntie Warhol

      We'd all be vapor by now if that were true.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Just another fictional claim, as the planet would have long been uninhabitable. It's only increasing by 0.1% since the last Maunder minimum. You might have noted that by an ice age.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      That 'theory' has been completely debunked. It was a wacko theory of anti-climate change 'scientists' for a while. It's not true.

      August 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dennise

    Matt. That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life. Please go back to school. 6% per year? Let's see, the sun is approx 10,000 degrees FR. 6% of 10,000 over the past 50 years. Well do the math. Our earth would be gone by now. Think Mat. Think.

    August 9, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Jess

      Don't you love when people pull "facts" out of thin air and then manage to get people to take it for truth. Sheep.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Well, I'd accept a 6% increase since fusion began in the sun... 😉
      That said, the EARTH has increased by 6 degrees since the great depression, with a bit of a dip corresponding to WWII. That is easily understandable, due to increased particulates from WWII.

      August 9, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bellabiv Devot

    This sounds like the ocean's problem.

    August 9, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Canadian Genius

    Take that! Stupid penguins.

    August 9, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • U-Turn

      Actually, only about 10% of the penguin population lives in cold weather. So, in fact, your statement about bad news for penguines is incorrect.

      August 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. God

    It's all my fault. Sorry.

    August 9, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Dear God,

      Just paving the way for your 2nd coming? Allow me to be the first of many to say... Welcome back!

      August 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • helpmejeebus

      That's ok, we forgive you. But why do you make bees that like to sting me?

      August 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Flood

      Is there something you can do about your fan clubs? We seem to be having an issue with them ruining things for the past few thousand years.

      August 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Too bad you don't exist.

      August 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Joe Flood

      God was here first... when God is done being God... you and your fanclub can have a shot at running the universe.

      August 9, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thereisnogod

      Well you don't seem to have any powers really. You can't stop world hunger. You can't stop natural disasters from happening. You can't stop wars. Heck you can't even unite your fan clubs. Also, to top it all, country music keeps spreading!
      You make it impossible to believe in you.

      August 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • @Thereisnogod

      Let me break it down for you... I am not God but a believer...

      You: Well you don't seem to have any powers really.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he doesn't? You exist in a universe of balance and laws...

      You: You can't stop world hunger.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't?

      You: You can't stop natural disasters from happening.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't?

      You: You can't stop wars.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't?

      You: Heck you can't even unite your fan clubs.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't?

      You: Also, to top it all, country music keeps spreading!
      Me: God save us.

      You: You make it impossible to believe in you.
      Me: You make it impossible to believe you.

      August 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • conrad

      The way in which it makes sense that He exists is to understand that He exists within each of us – and we decide whether his power of compassion and love are manifest through us or not – like when you decide to use kindness instead of cruelty.

      I don't mean that in a metaphorical sense, if you quiet the swirling chaos of your mind enough and sincerely look inside yourself, you will know his qualities and realize that each of us has the seed of potential for great goodness. Allowing that power of God to act in and through you, rather than seeking pleasure and self-satisfaction in rapid random fashion, you yourself might go out and seek to end poverty, hunger, and war.

      Further, the arguments that nothing divine exists because there is suffering is short sighted and predicated on the persistent and false belief that there is nothing but this life in the way it is playing out in our view. It may be that there is expression of life in a manner different from this and after this and that all the suffering we go through makes our future compassion, love, and acts of good possible through our developing the capacity for empathy. We are all capable of change, and acts of love if we choose.

      August 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      If the typical, uninformed atheist takes time to examine ALL the facts, he will find that it really takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in GOD

      August 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • PushingBack

      You: Well you don't seem to have any powers really.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he doesn't? You exist in a universe of balance and laws...
      PB: A god that is truly good and loving would not allow such things. Or would you allow your baby to be run over by a truck even if you could prevent it from happening?

      You: You can't stop world hunger.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't?
      PB: Because hunger exists now and always has.

      You: You can't stop natural disasters from happening.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't?
      PB: They continue to occur. Unless god thinks only some disasters are worth stopping in which case he doesn't seem fair or just. Even the worst civilizations have lives worth saving. If god were all powerful then it would seem an easy task to create a planet that did not have so much inner turmoil to cause earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.

      You: You can't stop wars.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't?
      PB: Well, there sure has been a lot of them. At least he could have prevented the ones done in his name, you know, to make a point. Again, if god were rational, would he choose to only prevent one or a few?

      You: Heck you can't even unite your fan clubs.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't?
      PB: Ok, well again, can you just look around please? Yes, we are aware that all the things god hasn't done, or could've done are amazing, but it's better to focus on what he has done, right? Back to the all powerful, all-loving part – really? I don't think the two can exist side by side a world in such chaos. If you loved us enough to create us, then at least show you care dude.

      You: Also, to top it all, country music keeps spreading!
      Me: God save us.
      PB: We're good here.

      You: You make it impossible to believe in you.
      Me: You make it impossible to believe you.
      PB: An all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing, just and moral god could not bear to allow what happens every day happen. Some things are based on freedom of choice, but many bad things are not. But if he loved us so much, he'd be a lot clearer on things and communicate with us in ways to be clear. Why all the mystery? Why does god need to communicate through images on burnt toast? So I will argue that if he does exist, he is not all the things mentioned above.

      August 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      @ not God but a believer. Let me break it down for you..

      You: Well you don't seem to have any powers really.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he doesn't? You exist in a universe of balance and laws... It's you job as a believer to prove it. Science may not be perfect but it does explain a lot of these "magics."

      You: You can't stop world hunger.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't. Because there still is world hunger Google Somalia

      You: You can't stop natural disasters from happening.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't. This one you could argue that God has stopped some but let others. So prove to me why some but not others. But give me an example of one that God has stopped please. Or I could just say Science again the pressures and climate and such ho hrum...

      You: You can't stop wars.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't. Same argument as natural disasters but more flawed men have stopped wars. Give me an example of God stopping one...

      You: Heck you can't even unite your fan clubs.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't? Because they still are killing each other and there is not one world religion. God couldn't even convert his chosen people!

      You: Also, to top it all, country music keeps spreading!
      Me: God save us. Agreed!

      You: You make it impossible to believe in you.
      Me: You make it impossible to believe you. You don't make any sense with Prove it being your only parrot. SO it is impossible to believe in you and you offer no logical or emotional answer for believing God. Because is not an answer you are not Mommy or Daddy to everyone on this board.

      August 9, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      @PushingBack I like yours better!

      August 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • the nameless face

      You: Well you don't seem to have any powers really.
      Me: It's you job as a believer to prove it. Science may not be perfect but it does explain a lot of these "magics."
      God: You can lead an obtuse man to water, but you can't make him drink.

      You: You can't stop world hunger.
      Me: Because there still is world hunger Google Somalia
      God: If you fat Americans would quit hoarding all of the food...

      You: You can't stop natural disasters from happening.
      Me: So prove to me why some but not others. But give me an example of one that God has stopped please. Or I could just say Science again the pressures and climate and such ho hrum...
      God: What some people call science, I simply call a means to an end. Quit looking at death as the end, and rather look at it as a transition of energy.

      You: You can't stop wars.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't. Same argument as natural disasters but more flawed men have stopped wars. Give me an example of God stopping one...
      God: The Cold War. Thank goodness the majority of voters never held John Kennedy's Catholic faith against him.

      You: Heck you can't even unite your fan clubs.
      Me: Prove it. How do you know that he hasn't? Because they still are killing each other and there is not one world religion. God couldn't even convert his chosen people!
      God: Freewill is to me what the First Amendment is to the POTUS. Contrary to what you've heard, I'm pro-choice. Out of respect for the letter of the law, I will not interfere with my believers' ability to choose. I would, however, like you to make the right decisions.

      You: Also, to top it all, country music keeps spreading!
      Me: God save us. Agreed!
      God: My friend, Johnny Cash, is rolling in his grave at the moment.

      You: You make it impossible to believe in you.
      Me: You don't make any sense with Prove it being your only parrot. SO it is impossible to believe in you and you offer no logical or emotional answer for believing God. Because is not an answer you are not Mommy or Daddy to everyone on this board.
      God: Every man's life is his own journey to find meaning and reason. Some people find it. Some people don't. None of you accomplish anything with this tired argument. Stop wasting your time and start honoring yourself by respecting your fellow man.

      August 9, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
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