A study in contrast: Photo of black iceberg

There is not much to go on with this story. No word on where it was taken which would give an better indication of the cause of the contrast in ice colors shown.

Black iceberg photo goes viral on Reddit.

A black iceberg has made a ton of fans today after a photo of it was posted on Reddit[…]

The darker ice is formed by a higher density of bubble-free ice with a greater amount of rock detritus from the base of the “parent glacier.”

An iceberg is a piece of freshwater ice that has broken off from an ice sheet and is floating free in the water. Because it is less dense than sea water, it floats. The whiteness of the ice is caused by air bubbles. Dark blue ice is denser and has less air trapped in the crystal structure.

Ideas of why this ice is black include: oil contamination, volcanic ash, high density from greater pressure (bottom ice), and discoloration from silt particles. The last one seems the best explanation. It’s dirty ice. But watch for it to be linked to an oil spill and used as environmental propaganda. Beware of the speculated explanations.

Any additional information on this is appreciated.

Addition: We got some confirmation from polar oceanographer Mark Brandon

Original photo from http://imgur.com/ew8vn

Original photo from http://imgur.com/ew8vn

Absolutely gorgeous striped ice can be seen here.

  6 comments for “A study in contrast: Photo of black iceberg

  1. D.Walker
    January 6, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    I’d guess granite dust, based on nothing, but being dark it would melt more quickly. Oil and water wouldn’t mix to make a uniform color like that, I’m thinking.

  2. Kitty Lapin Agile
    January 7, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    At first I was going with an upside down iceberg, but viewing the photograph in larger form I can see that’s not the case. Sometimes, a berg flips. If it has been dragged along the seafloor bottom (which can be dirty) the dirty part is on top! When I was in Alaska I saw dirty layers of ice, and though “is that from a volcano?” but was told layering colors were normal. I also saw very BLUE ice, which shocked me (I was dumb enough to think ice was just clear or white).

  3. Turbogurkan
    January 9, 2013 at 6:24 AM

    It’s taken on Iceland.

  4. January 9, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Do we have a reference for that? How do you know?

  5. January 11, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    I took this photo in Alaska 2 years ago – Note the similarities in the crystalline structure, and the blacker ice at the base.


  6. January 13, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    To be clear – I shot a different photo, not this one. 🙂 The different photo is linked above.

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