Researchers from Durham University, Newcastle University, Imperial College London and an international team have discovered that a canyon, larger than the Grand Canyon in the United States, might have been formed underneath the Antarctic ice sheet. This would mean that the canyon is the largest in the world.
The discovery was made using satellite imagery to study slight color variations. These color variations represent changes in how ice flows. The direction in which the ice flows led researchers to believe that there is a large canyon hidden below the Antarctic ice sheet. Scientists estimate that the canyon is as deep as the Grand Canyon, but longer, up to 1,000 kilometers (approximately 621 miles). The Grand Canyon in the United States is 446 kilometers (277 miles) long.
(…) more is known about the surface of the planet Mars than the Antarctic ice sheet.
According to Imperial College London, the finding is important because not much is known about this ice sheet and it is one of the last places on Earth to be explored. Dr. Stewart Jamieson of the department of Geology at Durham University has stated that more is known about the surface of the planet Mars than the Antarctic ice sheet.
Discovery News reported that scientists think that flowing water carved out the canyon and its landscape over time. Adding that either the canyon is so old that it existed before Antarctica was covered by ice or that water underneath the ice sheet formed it. A team is on the ground in Antarctica to confirm the finding.
The subglacial canyon is not visible without the interpretation of satellite imagery as stated by Imperial College London. The team of researchers believe that the confirmation of this finding will lead to previously undiscovered subglacial water ways. The finding must still be confirmed by performing exact measurements. You can watch Dr. Jamieson explain more about the finding on the University of Durham’s YouTube channel.