New study claims to have discovered a big expanse of volcanoes lurking beneath the ice in Antarctica
Scientists brought to light a total of 91 undiscovered volcanoes. Some of them stretch up to 12,600 feet in height and are located in a region known as the West Antarctic Rift System. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh compared the concentrated volcanic region to the ones in east Africa and North America.
Geologists had plenty of difficulties in studying Antarctica for signs of volcanic systems due to the fact that the terrain is covered in ice sheets. However, to overcome the obstacles, scientists remotely surveyed the underside of the ice with the use of a digital elevation model. They used the info and cross referenced it by examining aerial and satellite imagery. Results showed peaks of basalt rock coming up through the ice, forming cone-shaped structures. From the 178 edifices, 91 were undiscovered volcanoes.
More than that, the study suggests that the density of volcanoes in that area is one volcano per 4,800 square miles. This makes it one of the largest volcanic regions in the world. Even though the data does not indicate any signs of activity, it allows further studies to determine it.
Even though there has been seismic activity registered in Antarctica, it is not thought to have impacted the ice retreat. West Antarctica contains a thicker sheet of ice than Iceland; however, it may not be enough to prevent the effects of volcanic disturbance on future ice flow, scientists say.