Australia issues shipping alert over giant iceberg

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2009 2:37 AM

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology issued a shipping alert Friday after a massive iceberg was spotted 1,100 miles (1,700 kilometers) off the country's southwestern coast.

Glaciologist Neal Young of the Australian Antarctic Division spotted the iceberg on satellite imaging. It is 12 miles (19 kilometers) long and 5 miles (8 kilometers) wide, and is edging slowly northeastward toward Western Australia state, Young said in a statement.

Young said the iceberg is one of several that split off in Antarctica in 2000 when parts of two major ice shelves _ the Ross Sea Ice Shelf and Ronne Ice Shelf _ fractured. New Zealand issued a shipping alert last month after authorities spotted a flotilla of icebergs heading toward South Island. Those icebergs have since moved east, away from New Zealand.

The iceberg is expected to break up as it moves north into warmer waters, resulting in hundreds of smaller icebergs that could be hazardous to ships.

Icebergs are routinely sloughed off as part of the natural development of ice shelves.