Jan 15 2014, 8:23am CST | by Forbes
A giant valley deeper than the Grand Canyon is buried beneath several miles of glacial ice in West Antarctica, according to a new study by British scientists.
The sub-glacial canyon is nearly two miles deep, 200 miles long and 15 miles wide.
“The discovery of this huge trough, and the characterization of the surrounding mountainous landscape, was incredibly serendipitous,” said Dr. Neil Ross, a professor of geology at Newcastle University and the study’s lead author.
The study appears in the latest edition of the Geological Society of America Bulletin.
Ross and a team of other scientists from the University of Bristol’s Glaciology Centre, the British Antarctic Survey and the universities of Edinburgh, Exeter, and York spent three seasons mapping an ancient sub-glacial mountain range known as the Ellsworth Sub-glacial Highlands.
The mapping combined data collected by ice-penetrating radars towed behind snowmobiles and on-board small aircraft with satellite data.
“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,” said Ross. “Satellite data was used to fill the gap, because despite being covered beneath several kilometers of ice, the valley is so vast that it can be seen from space.”
The valley was formed millions of years ago by a small ice field similar to those of the present-day Antarctic Peninsula.
Ross eloquently summarized the implications of this research, stating: “To me, this just goes to demonstrate how little we still know about the surface of our own planet.”
You can say that again.
Source: Forbes Business
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