“The glaciers of Chile cover 2.7%, equal to 7,795 square miles (20,188 km2) of the land area of the country, excluding Antarctica Chilena, and have a considerable impact on its landscape and water supply. By surface 80% of South America’s glaciers lie in Chile. The largest glaciers of Chile are the Northern and Southern Patagonian Ice Fields. From a latitude of 47° S and south some glaciers reach sea level.” – Wikipedia
Located in Bernardo O´Higgins National Park, Pio XI Glacier – named after Pope Pius the 11th — (also know as Brüggen Glacier, named after the German geologist Juan Brüggen Messtorff) is the biggest glacier in South America, now about 41 miles (66 km) in length. To put it in perspective, Pio XI is as big as Santiago, with a surface of 488 square miles (1,265 square kilometers), which grows 164 feet (50 meters) in height, length and density every day. This is a unique quality, as all the other glaciers in Patagonia and in most areas of the world are losing mass (due to a combination of melting and less new snow accumulation), whereas Pio XI keeps growing everyday.
Almost everyone, upon seeing their first glacier (or large iceberg) asks, “Why is glacier ice blue?” For the answer, we checked in with the Alaska Satellite Facility: “Glacial ice is a different color from regular ice. It is so blue because the dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue – so blue is what we see! Sometimes the glacial ice appears almost turquoise. Its crystalline structure strongly scatters blue light. The ice on a glacier has been there for a really long time and has been compacted down so that its structure is pretty different from the ice you normally see. Glacial ice is a lot different from the frozen water you get out of the freezer. Glacial ice is not just frozen compacted snow. There are other things in the ice that make it much different from the ice in your home. Glaciers move through rock and soil as they carve their way down a slope. This means the ice is going to have a lot more ingredients than just water.
“What would happen if you broke off a big chunk of ice from a glacier and put it in your glass of water? Would it be any different from the ice in your freezer at home? What would happen to all those air bubbles that have been trapped under pressure? 1) If your chunk of glacial ice melted in your glass of water, you would have dirt, gravel, and even organic matter [living stuff] in your water. 2) All those pressurized air bubbles would rush out so fast that they might explode your glass.”