"something very hot" under the ice of Antarctica


There is something hot hidden under the ice of East Antarctica, something that is melting the deep ice, but the researchers who have discovered it do not know very well what it could be. Although they handle some tracks. Their conclusions have just been published in Scientific Reports.

We know that the East of Antarctica is a craton, a large portion of the continental crust, rigid, thick and that takes hundreds of millions of years without being affected by geological movements. A perfect "cover" that prevents, or should prevent, the passage of heat from inside the Earth. Something very different from what happens in Western Antarctica, where the crust is much thinner and the magma inside is, in some areas, quite close to the surface.

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The existence of that craton, therefore, implies that there should not be much melted water at the bottom of the East Antarctic ice sheet. But nevertheless, there it is. And it's not about small amounts. According to the researchers, the British Antartic Survey, the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Technical University of Denmark and the Imperial College of London, this melting has nothing to do with climate change, which does melt the margins of the continent.

It is rather a thermal anomaly in a very old place, separated from the world of the surface, isolated and away from the atmosphere, but still manages to stay warm in the middle of the perennial ice. The scientists managed to detect it thanks to a specialized radar that is able to penetrate the ice.

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