When you think of Antarctica, you probably envision a white and calm mass of ice that lies undisturbed. However, researchers discovered such a description isn’t too accurate. It turns out East Antarctica, an area always regarded as tranquil, is actually quite shaky from a geological point of view. A recent study has revealed phenomena like small earthquakes are actually quite common in the region.
Is Antarctica so geologically calm?
Researchers regarded East Antarctica as calm since it was quite difficult to measure any tectonic activity in the area. The mystery started when researchers discovered something interesting hiding beneath the ice sheet. Right underneath the surface, they could find an impressive mountain range that reminded them of other similar formations from other continents.
However, these mountains shouldn’t have been there. For such formations to come into being, two tectonic plates must smash. Also, their position on the continent was quite strange, since such movements don’t usually appear right in the middle. Therefore, researchers decided to investigate and see where they came from.
East Antarctica experiences small earthquakes relatively often
This way, they identified the presence of the small earthquakes in East Antarctica. The mountains came into being through some older geological processes that researchers managed to identify. After consulting a report on seismic activity from 2009, they got the first look into the intense geological activity of Antarctica.
However, they knew they shouldn’t stop here. Small earthquakes are a result of actual seismic activities, but sensors can pick up other stimuli and mistake them for such phenomena. Therefore, they attached some new sensors and made sure they reduced the effect of fake stimuli from the atmosphere or from the surface.
The final results revealed there had been 27 earthquakes during a year. They were all relatively small, but the average rate was of two earthquakes occurring every two weeks. This is extremely impressive, since researchers used to think Antarctica had no seismic activity at all. The study on these small earthquakes was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons