A team of international researchers found that the world’s biggest canyon could be hidden under arctic ice sheet, stretching out on a space bigger than the U.K.. The exciting discovering has brought forth the possibility of an entirely new piece of land that is completely unknown to humans. In fact, it’s more unexplored than Mars.
The team of scientists believe that the mysterious canyon is underneath the Antarctic ice sheet, in the Princess Elizabeth Land (PEL) area. It’s located in East Antarctica, and has been dubbed as one of the regions “Poles of Ignorance” due to their mystery. The newly discovered space is potentially bigger than the entire United Kingdom, and over 620 miles (1,000 km) in length.
In certain places, the alleged underwater ice canyon delves as far as almost 3,300 feet (1 km) deep, which is almost equal to the depths of the famous Grand Canyon in the United States. However, it’s significantly longer and could be an exquisite example on how the ancient ice sheets adapted to climate change or how it affected the region. However, the canyon cannot be seen with the naked eye.
It’s buried deep beneath the ice sheet, so the researchers used radio-echo sounding data along with satellite imagery. The technology is more often used to map the shape of the rock under the ice sheet, achievable through radio waves. It provides with invaluable information and, in this particular case, the potential of a new form of landscape underneath the Antarctic ice sheet.
According to lead researcher, Dr. Stewart Jamie from Durham University, their study provides the first evidence that there is a huge canyon, and possibly a lake underneath.
There are mysteries surrounding this particular formation. According to Dr. Jamie, we know more about Mars than we do about it, and the details could be invaluable in the world’s current state. Perhaps there are clues hidden underneath the icy waters on how the ice sheet will respond to global warming.
In regards to the process that might’ve formed the huge canyon, researchers only have suggestions. The underground formation could’ve been produced by underwater currents. They could have eroded the ancient landscape, or it could’ve been created by already existing water. It’s an exciting discovery with tremendous potential, and it could have been there for ages without the scientific community knowing about it.
However, there is a need for more research to unveil more answers and high-performing equipment to confirm their estimations. It has only been made possible with the help of NASA, ESA, and the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Study co-author, Martin Siegert stated that the “stability of this understudied continent is threatened by global warming”, and all countries might make an effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. If not, we cannot foresee its effects. But, such underwater canyons might hold clues to where it’s all headed.
Image source: guim.co.uk