The Calving of Icebergs

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...To watch from a respectful distance the calving of bergs from an ice cliff two or three hundred feet high was a thrilling sight. For an hour the ice front seemed solid and permanent, and then, without any warning that we could observe, a vast slice of the glacier edge severed itself, and plunged under the water of the fiord with huge turmoil and stirring of the depths. In a moment it came to the surface again, shedding off endless fragments while the water poured in cataracts from its shoulder. Meantime, the roar of the catastrophe reached us as a confused and threatening sound wave lagging some seconds behind the vision. Much later tremendous water waves spread over the fiord, turning its placid surface into angry billows, and finally reaching the ship which heaved and plunged as if struck by a hurricane.

It was a fascinating performance, not devoid of an element of dread for the onlooker, suggesting that puny humanity should keep its distance from such uncontrollable events.

Manuscript. A.P. Coleman. ca 1931 “Chapter II—Spitzbergen.” in A Geologist’s Adventures in the North. (Typescript): 69- 70

Notebook. A.P. Coleman. "Swedish Lapland, Norwegian Fiords, Spitzbergen. [lecture notes]". holograph: 1 - 4
Map. "Popular Map of the Polar Regions, [Arctic]" in Rand McNally World Atlas: Premier edition (Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., ca1931): 136