Scientists discover 91 volcanoes slumbering beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

15 August, 2017, 00:52 | Author: Yolanda Murray
  • Dr Bingham says sea levels could rise further if the volcanoes that have been uncovered erupt

Earth science experts have determined that glaciers covered the most active volcano regions in the world, like Alaska and Iceland, during the last ice age. That adds to the 47 volcanoes already known, bringing the continental total to 138.

Thus, this region claims to have the highest concentration of volcanoes in the world (so far as such was considered a volcanic ridge East Africa).

The results were then compared with satellite and database records and geological information from other aerial surveys. If climate change triggers the melting of the ice sheets on the southern continent, the researchers believe it is entirely conceivable the volcanoes under Antarctica will start to stir, threatening the possibility of a major eruption.

The survey team's youngest member, Max Van Wyk de Vries, is a volcano fanatic who wouldn't stop wondering how many tips lie below the ice.

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"We propose that these edifices represent subglacial volcanoes", the authors say, adding that their analysis has created an "inventory of West Antarctica's subglacial volcanism".

This would lead to eruptions that could further destabilise ice sheets and enhance sea level rises, something Dr Bingham is keen to monitor.

Their results do not indicate whether the volcanoes are active, but should inform ongoing research into seismic monitoring in the area.

Researchers from Edinburgh University (UK) found under the ice shield of Antarctica 91 previously unknown volcano.

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This story originally appeared on The Independent.

In fact, the authors reported that the density of the volcanoes is almost one per 4,800 square miles of land - making it comparable to the East African Rift, which has one volcano per 4,500 square miles, according to The Verge. Their study involved analysing measurements made by previous surveys, which involved the use of ice-penetrating radar, carried either by planes or land vehicles, to survey strips of the west Antarctic ice. "Essentially, we were looking for evidence of volcanic cones sticking up into the ice", Bingham said. These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system, which stretches 3,500km from Antarctica's Ross ice shelf to the Antarctic peninsula. Perhaps one of these newly discovered volcanoes will blow within our lifetimes, and we'll actually get a chance to see it. The outflow of melt water into the ocean will raise sea level. "Volcanic activity may increase if Antarctica's ice thins, which is likely in a warming climate".

The volcanoes are of relatively recent origin - meaning they could be geologically active, they write. He suggested to the school's geologists that a more rigorous survey be conducted to confirm his initial findings, and they agreed.

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