The glacier's new rift was discovered by Stef Lhermitte, an Earth sciences professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, while studying satellite images of the area, reported The Washington Post. Lhermitte provided coordinates of the chasm to Operation IceBridge so that researchers could conduct an aerial survey of the ice shelf.
"[It's] amazing to see the rift from nearby after studying it from space for several days," Lhermitte told The Washington Post. "From these images alone, it is difficult to already say anything about what exactly caused the crack on this unusual spot."
Glaciers typically crack along their sides. A rift in the center of the floating ice shelf could be due to the warming ocean waters beneath the shelf, Lhermitte hypothesized, according to The Washington Post.
In other parts of the world, researchers have observed warm ocean waters that are melting ice shelves from below and weakening them at the center. A recent study of Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier showed that subsurface cracks in the glacier were likely caused by melting underneath the floating ice shelf.
Original article on Live Science.