Researchers develop the first comprehensive map of geology beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet

Apr 10, 2014 by David Stacey
Researchers develop the first comprehensive map of geology beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet

(Phys.org) —An international research team has generated the first comprehensive map of geology beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that will help to understand long-term changes in the largest ice sheet on the planet.

The researchers are from The University of Western Australia's School of Earth Environment, the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, the Australian Antarctic Division, Monash University, the University of Bristol and the British Antarctic Survey.

The study, accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, analyses five years of new geophysical data to provide an improved understanding of the tectonic evolution of the southern supercontinent of Gondwana. The results also help to understand the influence of geology on the evolution and dynamics of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Wilkes Land is a large district in East Antarctica, which fronts the southern Indian Ocean. It was connected to the southern coast of Australia in Gondwana times with geological links to south-west Western Australia, the Great Australian Bight, the Eyre Peninsula and eastern South Australia. This new data confirms that "Australian" geology extends into Antarctica for several hundred kilometres, until it meets "Indian" geology, deep in the interior of Antarctica.

Lead author Dr Alan Aitken said that the data provides the first opportunity to understand geology in an extremely remote region that has immense significance for the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

"This is a timely study, as recent studies indicate that parts of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet may be more vulnerable to change than previously thought. Our data show that the morphology and properties of the ice-sheet bed are intimately linked to tectonic faults and sedimentary basins that also exist in Australia, and can therefore be characterised," Dr Aitken said.

"The nature of the ice-sheet bed has a major influence on ice-sheet dynamics and this new information provides us with a better understanding of the largest ice-catchments in East Antarctica. Further work is needed however to characterise the processes occurring at the ice sheet bed, and their overall influence on long-term ice-sheet dynamics, including past and potential future changes of the ."

"This new work demonstrates the value of international collaboration in addressing these vast regions of previously unexplored continents," said co-author Dr. Duncan Young at the University of Texas. "A diverse range of not only technical and logistical resources but scientific skills were required to bring these continental correlations to light."

Explore further: West Antarctic ice sheet formed earlier than thought

More information: "The subglacial geology of Wilkes Land, East Antarctica." A.R.A. Aitken, et al. Geophysical Research Letters, 2014. DOI: 10.1002/2014GL059405

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

West Antarctic ice sheet formed earlier than thought

Oct 09, 2013

About 34 million years ago, Earth transitioned from a warm "greenhouse" climate to a cold "icehouse" climate, marking the transition between the Eocene and Oligocene epochs. This transition has been associated with the formation ...

Sediment wedges not stabilizing West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Sep 03, 2013

The stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is uncertain as climate changes. An ice sheet such as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that is grounded well below sea level on a bed that slopes toward the interior of the sheet ...

Lakes discovered beneath Greenland ice sheet

Nov 27, 2013

The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, discovered two subglacial lakes 800 metres below the Greenland Ice Sheet. The two lakes are each roughly 8-10 km2, and at one point may have been up to t ...

Giant channels discovered beneath Antarctic ice shelf

Oct 06, 2013

Scientists have discovered huge ice channels beneath a floating ice shelf in Antarctica. At 250 metres high, the channels are almost as tall as the Eiffel tower and stretch hundreds of kilometres along the ...

Recommended for you

New signs of eruption at Iceland volcano

13 hours ago

Teams monitoring Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano have found evidence of a possible underground eruption as powerful earthquakes continue to shake the area, Icelandic authorities said Thursday.

NASA sees a weaker Tropical Storm Marie

13 hours ago

When NOAA's GOES-West satellite captured an image of what is now Tropical Storm Marie, weakened from hurricane status on August 28, the strongest thunderstorms were located in the southern quadrant of the ...

TRMM analyzes Hurricane Cristobal

14 hours ago

NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM Satellite provided a look under the hood of Hurricane Cristobal as it continues moving north and paralleling the U.S. East Coast. NASA's HS3 hurricane mission ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TegiriNenashi
1 / 5 (5) Apr 10, 2014
"...parts of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet may be more vulnerable to change than previously thought. Our data show that the morphology and properties of the ice-sheet bed are intimately linked to tectonic faults..."

So it is not global warming that is destined to destroy East Antarctic Ice Sheet (and raise sea level 60 meters)... Run for the hills!
Caliban
5 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2014
"...parts of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet may be more vulnerable to change than previously thought. Our data show that the morphology and properties of the ice-sheet bed are intimately linked to tectonic faults..."

So it is not global warming that is destined to destroy East Antarctic Ice Sheet (and raise sea level 60 meters)... Run for the hills!


TugNads--

So, what is your point?

Oh, that's right --you haven't got one, unless the shape of your skull counts.

Moron.
Nik_2213
not rated yet Apr 11, 2014
Hopefully an 'update' will soon follow, with diagrams, as the referenced article is currently behind a pay-wall...