Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What lies beneath: Giant trench under Antarctic Ice, deeper than Grand Canyon

Date:
January 14, 2014
Source:
Newcastle University
Summary:
A massive ancient subglacial trough -- deeper than the Grand Canyon -- has been discovered by a team of scientists. The researchers charted the Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands -- an ancient mountain range buried beneath several kilometers of Antarctic ice -- by combining data from satellites and ice-penetrating radars towed behind snowmobiles and on-board small aircraft.

Antarctica.
Credit: Image courtesy of Newcastle University

A massive ancient subglacial trough -- deeper than the Grand Canyon -- has been discovered by a team of UK experts.

The research involved scientists from Newcastle University, the University of Bristol's Glaciology Centre, the British Antarctic Survey and the universities of Edinburgh, Exeter, and York. They charted the Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands -- an ancient mountain range buried beneath several kilometres of Antarctic ice -- by combining data from satellites and ice-penetrating radars towed behind snowmobiles and on-board small aircraft.

The researchers spent three seasons investigating and mapping the region in West Antarctica, uncovering a massive subglacial valley up to 3 kilometres deep, more than 300 kilometres long and up to 25 kilometres across. In places, the floor of this valley is more than 2000 metres below sea level.

The mountain range and deep valley were carved millions of years ago by a small icefield similar to those of the present-day Antarctic Peninsula, or those of Arctic Canada and Alaska.

The team's analysis has provided an unprecedented insight into the extent, thickness and behaviour of this ancient icefield, and the configuration and behaviour of the early West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The subglacial landscape shows where and how the West Antarctic Ice Sheet originated and grew. It also provides important clues about the size and shape of the ice sheet in West Antarctica in a warmer global climate.

The findings are published in the latest edition of the Geological Society of America Bulletin. The paper's lead author Dr Neil Ross from Newcastle University said: "The discovery of this huge trough, and the characterisation of the surrounding mountainous landscape, was incredibly serendipitous.

The lecturer in Physical Geography added: We had acquired ice penetrating radar data from both ends of this huge hidden valley, but we had no information to tell us what was in between. Satellite data was used to fill the gap, because despite being covered beneath several kilometres of ice, the valley is so vast that it can be seen from space.

"To me, this just goes to demonstrate how little we still know about the surface of our own planet. The discovery and exploration of hidden, previously-unknown landscapes is still possible and incredibly exciting, even now."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Newcastle University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. Ross, T. A. Jordan, R. G. Bingham, H. F. J. Corr, F. Ferraccioli, A. Le Brocq, D. M. Rippin, A. P. Wright, M. J. Siegert. The Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands: Inception and retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 2013; DOI: 10.1130/B30794.1

Cite This Page:

Newcastle University. "What lies beneath: Giant trench under Antarctic Ice, deeper than Grand Canyon." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114090831.htm>.
Newcastle University. (2014, January 14). What lies beneath: Giant trench under Antarctic Ice, deeper than Grand Canyon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114090831.htm
Newcastle University. "What lies beneath: Giant trench under Antarctic Ice, deeper than Grand Canyon." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114090831.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins