The table iceberg, named D-28 by scientists, broke off the shelf in east Antarctica on September 26. It measures 1,636 square kilometres (632 square miles) in area, is 210 meters (689 feet) thick and weighs a massive 315 billion tons.
The iceberg will now be tracked because it poses a potential hazard for shipping.
In a statement released by the Australian Arctic Division, she said: “I am excited to see this calving event after all these years. We knew it would happen eventually, but just to keep us all on our toes, it is not exactly where we expected it to be.”
She and her colleagues had been keeping an eye since 2002 on a nearby location known as “Loose Tooth” because of its shape and its precarious attachment to the ice shelf.
Scientists believe that the calving process is a natural phenomenon and is not related to climate change.
Fricker explained: “We don’t think this event is linked to climate change, it’s part of the ice shelf’s normal cycle, where we see major calving events every 60–70 years.”
Last week’s calving — observed on satellite imagery — will not have an impact on sea levels, the researchers say.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography wrote on its Twitter page: “They [ice shelves] do not directly affect sea level because ice shelves are already floating, much like an ice cube in a glass of water. Grounded ice is the concern for sea level rise.”
In comments posted by Scripps, Fricker added that “while there is much to be concerned about in Antarctica, there is no cause for alarm yet for this particular ice shelf.”