What is the official term to describe a group of icebergs?

Asked by Andrea

Well Andrea, this really got a lot of attention when I surveyed a group of my glaciology colleagues. There is no ‘official’ term, but there are some commonly used phrases,often taken from nautical terms, like ‘armada‘ or ‘flotilla‘. Armada is more often used for a very large group of icebergs (such as Heinrich Events in the North Atlantic deep sea sediment record), and is a general term for a large group of floating objects gathered together. For smaller groups, people have used swarm, cluster, fleet, litter or drift. A group of icebergs circulating in an oceann current could be a gyre of icebergs. Grounded icebergs, that are not free floating, could be a shoal of icebergs. I think all of this is very emotive and beautiful.

There are some terms that have a very specific meaning. A melange is a mixture of frozen sea ice, icebergs, growlers and bergy bits (small icebergs) that exist within a fjord, at the margin of a calving glacier. The melange provides some back stress that supports the calving margin.

Iceberg near Rothera, Antarctic Peninsula

Learn more about icebergs here: https://www.antarcticglaciers.org/glacier-processes/glacier-types/icebergs/


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