World's largest Canyon discovered beneath the Antarctic ice sheet

World’s largest Canyon discovered beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, located in Princess Elizabeth Land.

The giant chasm across the remote Princess Elizabeth Land in East Antarctica, carved by flowing water, discovered by geologists using radio-echo sounding, to map the shape of the rock beneath the ice.



The scientists published their recent discovery of the vast chasm under the ice, encompassing an area of 1,081 square miles, with over 683 miles of canyon 0.6 miles (1 km) deep, which is longer than the Grand Canyon, but not as deep, in Geology.

Lead study author Steward Jamieson of Durham University said in a statement.

“It’s astonishing to think that such large features could have avoided detection for so long.”

World's largest Canyon discovered beneath the Antarctic ice sheet



Although the discovery needs to be confirmed by direct measurements, the previously unknown canyon system is thought to be over 1,000km long and in places as much as 1km deep, comparable in depth to the Grand Canyon in the USA, but many times longer.

The canyon system is made up of a chain of winding and linear features buried under several kilometres of ice in one of the last unexplored regions of the Earth’s land surface: Princess Elizabeth Land (PEL) in East Antarctica. Very few measurements of the ice thickness have been carried out in this particular area of the Antarctic, which has led to scientists dubbing it one of Antarctica’s two ‘Poles of Ignorance’.

The researchers believe that the landscape beneath the ice sheet has probably been carved out by water and is either so ancient that it was there before the ice sheet grew or it was created by water flowing and eroding beneath the ice.

source Durham University