This is a part of the Amery Ice Shelf called the "Loose Tooth" which began breaking away about 10 years ago. The rifts seen above have been opening up and moving steadily at around 4 to 8 metres a day. In 2005, the same rifts were estimated to be rifting at between 2 and 5 metres a day. There hasn't been a major calving from the shelf since 1962-3.
The fracturing is like earthquake activity, variable and spasmodic. One rift lengthened by almost 200 metres over 4 hours. The rift bursts of activity are not directly triggered by either winds or tides but glaciological stress in the ice shelf.
The ice shelves are the floating extensions of the continental ice sheets and moderate the flow of ice into the sea and scientists expect a 30 by 35 kilometre area to break into the sea in the next few years.
Ice Shelf Research scientists left for Antarctica in December 2006 to study the "Loose Tooth" rifting using Global Positioning System units and seismometers to measure movement and to "listen" to the cracking and snapping of the ice shelf as it moves.
This is a long term collaborative project between the Antarctic Climate Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre, the University of Tasmania and the Scripps Institution of ocenaography in California.
The Australian Government chipped in with some loose change, $4.6 million.
The same Government is spending over $19 million on its terrorist hotline.