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 August 21, 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 August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — California's record drought is hurting honey supplies and raising prices for consumers. The lack of rainfall means fewer crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar bees need to make honey. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A U.S. team found nearly 4,000 species in a subglacial lake that hasn't seen sunlight in millennia, showing life can thrive even under the ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) 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