British scientists say an underground volcano that erupted more than 2,000 years ago may be partly responsible for Antarctica's receding ice sheet.

The scientists, writing Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, say the hidden volcano is still active, and its persistent heat may be contributing to a nearby glacier's rapid melting.

The British team says the volcano erupted about 23 centuries ago, roughly in the year 325 B.C., blowing a hole through hundreds of meters of ice and spewing a 12-kilometer-high plume of ash and steam. Radar images of volcanic debris trapped beneath the Antarctic ice sheet helped the scientists locate the volcano in Antarctica's Hudson Mountains and date the eruption.

Despite their discoveries, the British Antarctic experts say global warming and rising sea temperatures are still the biggest cause of the southern continent's accelerating ice melt.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.