British scientists have exposed a giant rift valley by glaciers in western Antarctica. Their findings were available in the scientific journal Nature. Experts believe that the fault is 1.6 kilometers deep and the size of the U.S. Grand Canyon may be related to high rates of ice melting in the region.
The deepening of the crust is located under the glacier Farrago, which stretches for 28 kilometers to the Gulf Eltanina in the Bellingshausen Sea in the western Antarctic. The discovery was made by scientists using radar that can penetrate thick ice at a distance of approximately 2.5 thousand kilometers. The region before the study was visited by explorers only once – in 1961.
“We found that under the ice layer has a large valley, – said the lead researcher on the project, Professor University of Aberdeen, Robert Bingham. – Especially important is the fact that detection of this fault coincides perfectly with the data on the reduction of the thickness of the ice surface. Melting ice we’ve seen over the area with satellites over the past 20 years. ”
The findings of scientists indicate that the ice-filled rift valley is connected to the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. At the same time it is in the western part of the continent, where the fault, at present there is more rapid melting of ice, compared with the other areas. In particular, the thickness of some of the glaciers during the year reduced by more than a meter.
“Recently discovered Ferrigno Valley is part of a huge, but so far little-studied rift system that lies beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet – explained co-author of a research project Faust Feracholi of the British Antarctic Survey. – This study shows that this ancient rift basin, and other faults, found under the ice and ocean combined with heating, may have an impact on the present movement of the ice and worsen their loss. “