Advertisement

Grand Canyon-sized trench found below Antarctic ice

The subglacial valley is so large that it can be seen from space despite being buried beneath several miles of snow and ice.

By Ananth Baliga
Grand Canyon-sized trench found below Antarctic ice
A group of British researchers have uncovered a hidden subglacial valley, larger than the size of the Grand Canyon, in West Antarctica. The believe it was carved out by ice fields similar to those found in Antarctica, Arctic Canada and Alaska. (UPI Photo/NASA/GRACE team/DLR/Ben Holt Sr.) | License Photo

Beneath the frozen landscape of Antarctica lies a hidden subglacial valley, larger than the size of the Grand Canyon.

Carved out millions of years ago, a team of British researchers discovered the valley in West Antarctica. It is roughly 2 miles deep, 186 miles long and nearly 15 miles wide, and in some regions the valley plunges to 6,500 feet below sea level.

Advertisement

The researchers were surveying the Ellsworth Subglacial Highlands using data from satellites and ice-penetrating radar, and proceeded to map the ancient mountain range. They believe it was carved out by a small ice field similar to those of present-day Antarctica, Arctic Canada and Alaska.

Analysis of the range has given scientists an insight into the thickness and behavior of this ice field and also provided important clues about what the ice sheet in West Antarctica could look like in a warmer global climate.

RELATED First planet found orbiting a solar twin

“The discovery of this huge trough, and the characterization of the surrounding mountainous landscape, was incredibly serendipitous," said lead author Dr. Neil Ross from Newcastle University.

According to Ross, they received data from the two ends of the valley and then used satellite data to fill in the gaps. Despite being buried beneath several miles of ice, the valley is still visible from space, due to its large size.

Advertisement

“To me, this just goes to demonstrate how little we still know about the surface of our own planet," he added.

RELATED Priceless water lily stolen from botanical gardens in London

The findings of the survey have been published in the latest edition of the Geological Society of America Bulletin.

[Newcastle University] [Geological Society of America Bulletin]

RELATED Robots will use their own 'internet' to learn from each other

RELATED NIH funding still below pre-sequestration levels under new spending bill

RELATED Fossil reveals transition from fins to feet

RELATED Supercomputer takes 40 minutes to model one second of human brain activity

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement