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Enormous canyon may be hidden beneath Antarctic ice

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Author Topic: Enormous canyon may be hidden beneath Antarctic ice  (Read 111 times)
Kristin Moore
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« on: February 08, 2016, 12:18:09 am »

Enormous canyon may be hidden beneath Antarctic ice
By Stephanie Pappas
February 7, 2016; 5:33 AM ET

Credit: Michael Hambrey (

A rift almost as deep as the Grand Canyon but much longer may be hidden beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Using satellite images and radio waves, researchers have uncovered tantalizing hints of a canyon up to 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) deep and more than 680 miles (1,100 km) long. For comparison, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is 1 mile (1.6 km) deep, on average, and 277 river miles (445 km) long.

Now, they hope to confirm the discovery on the ground. "Discovering a gigantic new chasm that dwarfs the Grand Canyon is a tantalizing prospect," Martin Siegert, an earth scientist at Imperial College London, said in a statement. "Geoscientists in Antarctica are carrying out experiments to confirm what we think we are seeing from the initial data."

Siegert and his colleagues announced their initial findings online Dec. 22 in the journal Geology.

The suspected canyon is in East Antarctica, in a region called Princess Elizabeth Land. Researchers were trying to measure ice thickness in this little-explored area when they found evidence of a large river network under the glacial ice. They suspect that the network may include a previously undiscovered glacial lake up to 483 square miles (1,250 square km) in size. This possible lake and canyon network could be older than the ice sheet itself, or they could have been carved out by flowing water under the glacier, the researchers said.

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