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Image:SantaCruz-PeritoMoreno-P2160295b.jpg|thumb|right|250px|The glacier on the shore two weeks before the 2004 rupture]]The Perito Moreno Glacier ( ) is a glacier located in the Los Glaciares National Parkmarker in the south west of Santa Cruz provincemarker, Argentinamarker. It is one of the most important tourist attractions in the Argentine Patagonia.

The ice formation, and in length, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Fieldmarker located in the Andes system shared with Chilemarker. This icefield is the world's third largest reserve of fresh water.

Status

Large piece of ice collapses as the glacier advances
The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that are not retreating.The terminus of the Perito Moreno Glacier is wide, with an average height of above the surface of the water of Lake Argentino, in Argentina. It has a total ice depth of .

Rupture

Two weeks prior to rupture.
Periodically the glacier advances over the L-shaped "Lago Argentinomarker" ("Argentine Lake") forming a natural dam which separates the two halves of the lake when it reaches the opposite shore. With no escape route, the water-level on the Brazo Rico side of the lake can rise by up to 30 meters above the level of the main lake. The enormous pressure produced by the height of the dammed water finally breaks the ice barrier holding it back, in a spectacular rupture event. This dam/rupture cycle is not regular and it recurs naturally at any frequency between once a year to less than once a decade.

The glacier first ruptured in 1917, taking with it an ancient forest of arrayán (Luma apiculata) trees. The last rupture occurred in July 2008, and previously in 2006, 2004, 1988, 1984, 1980, 1977, 1975, 1972, 1970, 1966, 1963, 1960, 1956, 1953, 1952, 1947, 1940, 1934 and 1917. It ruptures, on average, about every four to five years.

The Perito Moreno glacier, located from El Calafate, was named after the explorer Francisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a major role in defending the territory of Argentina in the conflict surrounding the international border dispute with Chile.

Tourism

Due to its size and accessibility, Perito Moreno is one of the major tourist drawcards to southern Patagonia. It is less than two hours by bus from El Calafate, and many tour companies run daily visits. A large visitor centre at the site features a walking circuit which allows both faces, and the surface of the glacier to be seen. There is also a restaurant at the site.

In recent years, trekking tours on the ice have gained popularity. The two standard tours are a "mini-trekking" option, consisting of a short walk of about an hour and a half, and a "big ice" version, which is usually about five hours. Tour companies generally provide crampons to customers.

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