The Antarctic Ice Hides a Place Like Nothing Else Seen Before

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Glaciologist Stewart Jamieson of Durham University and his colleagues analyzed the topographic characteristics of the terrain buried underneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, using ice-penetrating radar along with satellite data, in order to acquire more knowledge of how the ice sheet has altered over time. What they found is really rather fascinating to consider!

Given this discovery of an ancient landscape hidden in plain sight and that of others, we propose that there will be other similar, as yet undiscovered, ancient landscapes beneath the EAIS (East Antarctic Ice Sheet), explained the researchers.

The EAIS is the most extensive ice shelf on Earth. Although most of it is located on bedrock elevated above sea level, it is less solid than geologists formerly believed it to be. Now, a prehistoric river network that has been buried for roughly 14 million years and hidden from view for this whole time has been uncovered under the surface. It is more probable that the topography evolved before the Antarctic glacial when rivers traversed the region to a shoreline that arose when the Gondwana supercontinent split away. Quite impressive yet puzzling, don’t you think?!

Here’s a representation of the area:

Stewart Jamieson/ Nature Communications

The researchers hypothesize that the landscape was shaped by rifts that initially formed as Gondwana separated and then eroded into deep troughs as a result of subsequent weathering. However, the researchers warn that ice sheet retreat might eventually reach this region in the future if temperatures rise by 3-7 degrees Celsius, similar to what happened between 14 and 34 million years ago, which is when the EAIS originated.

When Antarctica became covered in ice around 34 million years ago, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet EAIS began to form. Over the course of many geological epochs, the EAIS has evolved, disappeared, widened, and weakened depending on the prevailing temperatures. What an intriguing region the Antarctica is! Just imagine how many things are still being hidden.

Georgia Nica

Georgia delves into a myriad of topics that promote a holistic approach to well-being. Her passion for the subject matter shines through in her well-researched and engaging articles that not only inform but inspire readers to prioritize their health. Georgia’s dedication to factual, clear, and insightful storytelling is a perfect match for the ethos at, making her a valuable addition to our diverse team of writers.