The scientists, co-led by Robin Bell of Columbia University, said the exploration will include use of sophisticated airborne radar and other cutting-edge technology to "peel away" more than 2.5 miles of ice covering the range that rivals Europe's Alps in elevation.
The researchers said they hope to determine the nature of the massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet, including how Antarctica became ice-covered and whether, as many believe, that process began millions of years ago in the Gamburstev Mountain range.
Working in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius, the scientists hope to determine whether the Gamburstevs were born of tectonic activity or date from a period when Antarctica was the center of an enormous supercontinent located at far lower latitudes.
The research involves teams from Australia, China, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and caps the global scientific deployment known as the International Polar Year -- the largest coordinated international scientific effort in 50 years.
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