A massive canyon may hide under the Antarctic ice sheet as per the findings of an international scientific team, published in the journal Geology.
The scientists coming from Durham University (UK), Newcastle University (UK), the University of Texas (US), University of Western Australia (Australia), Australian Antarctic Division, the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center (Australia), Polar Research Institute of China (China), Imperial College London (UK) used satellite data and radio-echo sounding data (RES) to unlock yet another impressive finding. Their analysis reveals that a massive canyon may hide under the Antarctic ice sheet.
The Grand Canyon, US landmark, has fascinated people for years. Its impressive size and landscape are nothing short of astonishing. Now think of the Grand Canyon being hidden under tons of massive ice and the large chasm being even larger. Satellite data corroborated with radio-echo sounding data indicates that underneath the Princess Elizabeth Land located in the east of Antarctica there lies a massive chasm.
The scientific team theorized that the massive canyon unwinds its length and depth from Princess Elizabeth land all through the Vestfold Hills, up to the West Ice Shelf. How did the 621 miles long and 3,280 feet deep massive canyon remain hidden until now? Princess Elizabeth Land is a largely unexplored and pristine part of the Antarctic ice sheet. It has even been dubbed the Pole of Ignorance considering so little research has been conducted on the official Australian stretch of the Antarctic ice sheet.
Buried under more than one mile of compact ice, the massive chasm would surpass Grand Canyon in length and depth likewise. The winding features of the Princess Elizabeth Land are an indication that something is there. However, the study published in the Geology journal is not definitive. More research needs to be conducted, including air surveys of the area to determine whether the massive canyon is really there. Further investigations are expected to be conducted in 2016.
In addition to the massive canyon there might also be a lake underneath the Princess Elizabeth Land. The scientific team theorized that the massive canyon could be linked to a sub-glacial lake. The first indication they got regarding the existence of the sub-glacial lake is consistent with previously observed characteristics of the ice sheet where other sub-glacial lakes are found. Satellite data and radio-echo sounding data indicate that the lake under Princess Elizabeth Land could stretch for 482.63 square miles.
Martin Siegert of the Imperial College London stated that there is certainly an urgent need for further research. In addition he is hopeful that the scientific team involved in the study will be able to present their new findings during the ICECAP2 meeting this year.
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