A body found in a crevasse on Fox Glacier yesterday may have only been there for a few years, a glaciologist says.
A tramper discovered the body in a crevasse near Chancellor Hut about 10.30am and contacted police.
Greymouth Sergeant Paul Watson said police would be reviewing missing person files from as far back as 30 years ago or longer. However, glaciologist Andrew Mackintosh believed it was more likely the body had only been there about five years.
Mackintosh said the fact the body was found in a crevasse led him to believe it might have only been there a short time.
"When something like a body or, I don't know, an aircraft falls into the top part of the glacier, it goes on a journey into the ice and reveals itself down near the bottom some time later," he said.
Items moved through the ice in some glaciers faster than in others, so a body moving through the ice at Fox Glacier would likely only take one or two decades to emerge, he said.
Tasman Glacier might move an item through the ice over several hundred years.
Mackintosh said crevasses, on the other hand, usually opened up for a few years at a time and then closed, so he did not believe the body would have been there for 30 years or more.
"If a body turns up in a crevasse, my guess would be that it's actually relatively recent," he said.
"My gut feeling would be that it's just sort of been in the last five years."
If that was the case, he said the body was likely fairly decomposed. The person probably fell into the crevasse, he said.
Police may have to wait until Monday to retrieve the body because of the weather.