News / Science & Technology

    Volcano Discovered Under Antarctic Ice

    Mount Sidley, in Marie Byrd Land, is the last volcano that rises above the surface of the ice.  Seismologists has detected new volcanic activity under the ice about 60 kilometers away. (Washington University)Mount Sidley, in Marie Byrd Land, is the last volcano that rises above the surface of the ice. Seismologists has detected new volcanic activity under the ice about 60 kilometers away. (Washington University)
    x
    Mount Sidley, in Marie Byrd Land, is the last volcano that rises above the surface of the ice.  Seismologists has detected new volcanic activity under the ice about 60 kilometers away. (Washington University)
    Mount Sidley, in Marie Byrd Land, is the last volcano that rises above the surface of the ice. Seismologists has detected new volcanic activity under the ice about 60 kilometers away. (Washington University)

    Related Articles

    Powerful Volcanoes Raise New Questions About Ancient Mars

    Finding raises fresh questions about conditions on Mars in its early years, when scientists believe planet was much more Earth-like

    Video Sicily's Mount Etna Erupts

    Airport officials in nearby Catania said two air space sectors above the volcano were closed to flights

    Photogallery Two Indonesian Volcanos Erupt

    About 5,000 people who had recently been evacuated from the area around Mount Sinabung have not yet been able to return home
    VOA News
    Scientists have discovered a previously unknown volcano buried a kilometer under the Antarctic ice.

    A group of scientists from Washington University initially set out to study the history of Anarctica’s climate. To do so, they set up seismic equipment across Marie Byrd Land in West Anarctica to “weigh the ice.”

    Two seismic events, one in January of 2010 and another in March of 2011, puzzled the team.

    The events were weak and very low frequency, which strongly suggested they weren’t tectonic in origin. While low-magnitude seismic events of tectonic origin typically have frequencies of 10 to 20 cycles per second, this shaking was dominated by frequencies of 2 to 4 cycles per second.

    Scientists still needed to know if events were the result of rock grinding on rock, ice groaning over ice, or, perhaps, hot gases and liquid rock forcing their way through cracks in a volcanic complex.

    “I started seeing events that kept occurring at the same location, which was odd,” PhD student Amanda Lough said. “Then I realized they were close to some mountains, but not right on top of them.”

    “My first thought was, ‘OK, maybe it’s just coincidence.’ But then I looked more closely and realized that the mountains were actually volcanoes and there was an age progression to the range. The volcanoes closest to the seismic events were the youngest ones.”

    After analyzing the data more, the scientists determined the events had occurred at depths of 25 to 40 kilometers. This is extraordinarily deep - deep enough to be near the boundary between the Earth’s crust and mantle, called the Moho, and more or less rules out a glacial origin.

    That information also casts doubt on a tectonic one. “A tectonic event might have a hypocenter 10 to 15 kilometers deep, but at 25 to 40 kilometers, these were way too deep,” Lough said.

    The team also consulted radar produced topographic maps to look at the area.

    “In these maps, you can see that there’s elevation in the bed topography at the same location as the seismic events,” Lough said.

    The radar images also showed a layer of ash buried under the ice. “They see this layer all around our group of earthquakes and only in this area,” Lough said.

    “Their best guess is that it came from Mount Waesche, an existing volcano near Mount Sidley. But that is also interesting because scientists had no idea when Mount Waesche was last active, and the ash layer sets the age of the eruption at 8,000 years ago.”

    Scientists still have questions.

    “Most mountains in Antarctica are not volcanic,” Wiens said, “but most in this area are. Is it because East and West Antarctica are slowly rifting apart? We don’t know exactly. But we think there is probably a hot spot in the mantle here producing magma far beneath the surface.”

    Lough said the volcano will “definitely” erupt, but that for the eruption to break through the ice, it would need to release about 1,000 times more energy than the typical eruption.

    Still, a subglacial eruption would melt a lot of ice, scientists said. This could create millions of gallons of water beneath the ice, which would rush toward the sea and feed into the hydrological catchment of the MacAyeal Ice Stream, one of several major ice streams draining ice from Marie Byrd Land into the Ross Ice Shelf.

    By lubricating the bedrock, it will speed the flow of the overlying ice, perhaps increasing the rate of ice-mass loss in West Antarctica.

    The discovery of the new as-yet-unnamed volcano is announced in the Nov. 17 advance online issue of Nature Geoscience.

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.