Glacial calving is a poorly understood process. This study tests the influence of local environmental variables on the magnitude and frequency distributions of calving behaviour at Glaciar San Rafael, Chile. Near the terminus of the glacier, surface speeds average 17 m d −1 in summer and calving is profuse and continual. The size, location and characteristics of over 7000 calving events were recorded during 32d in 1991 and 1992, together with meteorological, bathymetric and oceanographic data. Mean daily calving exceeds 400 events per day and the mean calving flux is more than 2 Mm3d1. Mean annual calving speed and calving flux are about 4500 m a −1 and 2.0 km3 a−1, respectively. This calving speed is higher than that predicted by the established empirical relationship between tide-water calving speed and water depth. This is surprising, given the low salinity of Laguna San Rafael and that fresh-water calving speeds are commonly much lower than those in ride water. Daily patterns of calving frequency and flux correlate poorly or not at all with meteorological variables, but tidal stage may have some control over the timing of large submarine calving events. Submarine calving produced the largest bergs. However, the relatively small total flux recorded from the submerged pars of the ice cliff may imply unusually rapid melt rates.