Australian Antarctic Division researchers were working on Macquarie Island when they first saw the iceberg last Thursday about about five miles off the island. It is rare to see an iceberg floating so far north of Antarctica, researchers said.
Macquarie Island is about halfway between Antarctica and Australia, some 930 miles from Tasmania.
The iceberg is about 160ft (50m) high and 1,640ft (500m) long.
It is probably part of one of several larger icebergs that broke off Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf between 2000 and 2002, said Neal Young a glaciologist with AAD.
Several icebergs have been drifting slowly northward with the ocean current toward the island over the past year, but it is uncommon for them to move so far into warmer northern waters, he said.
The scientists believe the iceberg will break up and melt rapidly as it continues its journey north. Before it melts, however, it could present a danger to ships navigating the region, Young said.
In 2000, several massive icebergs broke off from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf and the Ronne Ice Shelf.
The first iceberg was about 190 miles (300 kilometres) long and 23 miles (37 kilometres) wide. Those icebergs are now drifting away from Antarctica.