Antarctica may be hiding many more volcanoes than previously believed


Antarctica may be hiding many more volcanoes than previously believed

Researchers at Edinburgh University in the United Kingdom revealed a staggering 91 volcanoes, adding to the 47 others that had been discovered previously, with the highest as tall as the Eiger, which stands at nearly 4,000 metres in Switzerland. The tallest rises to a height of 12,600 feet (3,850 meters) the size of the Eiger in Switzerland.

Geologists and ice experts say the range has many similarities to East Africa's volcanic ridge, which is now acknowledged to be the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.

Using data from the British Antarctic Survey, researchers looked for volcanoes by hunting for their tell-tale cones.

"Antarctica remains among the least studied areas of the globe, and as a young scientist I was excited to learn about something new and not well understood", said de Vries, a third-year undergraduate.

'We have nearly trebled the number of volcanoes known to exist in west Antarctica.

Research has discovered 91 previously unidentified volcanoes underneath the ice sheet covering the continent. "Anything that causes the melting of ice-which an eruption certainly would-is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea".

"The big question is: how active are these volcanoes?".

All are covered in ice, sometimes in layers that are more than 4km thick.

Icy Antarctica might seem like the last place to find volcanoes, but in fact the region is very volcanically active. That is something we need to determine as quickly as possible'.

For people living on the ocean, climate change might start affecting them sooner than they thought, if those volcanoes start erupting. "Combining different data types-magnetic, gravity, and satellite imagery-with a digital elevation model and existing volcano databases has proven extremely fruitful, and the work will sow the seeds for much future research on Antarctica".

"I'm not particularly enamored with the hyperbole-'one of the world's largest volcanic provinces", he said. The area where they were found is the WARS (West Antarctic Rift System).

These newly discovered volcanoes range from 100 to 3,850 metres high.

Red-hot magma bursting through the Antarctic ice sheet evokes a particularly powerful mental image. Several large icebergs have broken off of ice shelves over the past few months, and the most recent one threatens to destabilize the entire ice shelf. It would be a song of fire and ice, indeed.