The file : archlinux-hf-2012-09-18.img is quoted on the download page as about 156 MB. After a download, my OS X file system reports it as:
1977614336 18 Sep 12:49 archlinux-hf-2012-09-18.img
i.e. nearly 2 GB! What happened? The download was definitely the smaller of these two numbers. I suspect the file is sparse but I was not aware of this technique.