A glacier is a river of water in solid state, a mass of ice and snow in continuous movement more or less fast, according to its slope and volume.

It is formed by the accumulation of ice and snow in the upper basins and it is commonly called snowdrift.

The snow, with the hexagonal perfection of its flakes, that in great amounts covers the high mountainous regions, goes through a series of changes that transform it into glacier ice. The snowdrifts turned into ice descend slowly due to the plasticity of their mass and the great pressures that the high zones exert on the lower ones along the valleys, giving rise to glacial tongues of shining blue whiteness.

There are two types of glaciations in Patagonia: the first one is the so-called Continental Ice, a great ice cap that covers the central part of the Andean range and sends its outflows to the Pacific Ocean and to the great Patagonian lakes; the second kind are the Peripheral Glaciers that in several hundreds develop in the highest part of the mountain chains.

The Patagonian Continental Ice stretches between parallels 46º and 51º 30´ of south latitude and between the Pacific Ocean and the great Austral Patagonian lakes. Its outflows are shown in huge masses of glacial ice that form the well-known glaciers:


Each of them has a surface of several hundreds of square kilometres. The Upsala has 595 km2, the Viedma, 575 km2 and the Moreno, the smallest one, 195 km2.

The huge glacial masses on their way give rise to dams in the valleys and hollows of their borders, forming lakes that fill with floes, which are masses of ice of different shapes and sizes, extremely irregular and variable, but generally of colossal dimensions.

Some of the floes may have a diameter of more than a hundred metres and may be more than 30 metres high.

As a rule, they have a long submerged base which, as days go by, is eaten away by the water below the surface, thus making them lose their stability, turn around and even get completely overturned.

Suddenly the huge mass breaks up into fragments that fall into the water with a tremendous noise and turn over so that the base of the floe becomes the top, with gigantic tips, a scene which creates an extraordinary, dazzling, wonderful sight which will be hard to forget.

Bibliographic source: Glaciological aspects of the zone of Patagonian Continental Ice by Mario Bertone.
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