Hidden volcanoes under the ice may be melting Antarctic glaciers

Scientists find “big variations in the temperature in the mantle across parts of Antarctica.”

“Scientists have used radar and other imaging technology to uncover some astounding finds under the East Antarctic Ice Sheet,” says this article on Live Science. “A vast mountain range that rivals the Alps, and Lake Vostok, one of Earth’s largest lakes.”

By installing a network of seismographs to map qualities of the rock deep below the surface, seismologist Doug Wiens and a team of researchers hope to figure out “what effect the Earth has on the ice sheet.”

The project is called Polenet. [See images of the scientists at work in Antarctica.]

“We do see these big variations in the temperature in the mantle across parts of Antarctica that will have a big effect on the ice sheet,” said Wiens.


Thanks to John Reno for this link

18 thoughts on “Hidden volcanoes under the ice may be melting Antarctic glaciers”

  1. yeah well it would figure.
    after all lake Vostock is liquid freshwater some 3 miles UNDER the damn ice.
    and Mt Erebus is burbling away to itself.
    but will they dare admit that the melt, what little there is..is due to that and NOT poor maligned CO2?
    don’t hold your breath waiting for it:-)

  2. No surprise to those of us that have been following your site for awhile now.
    Only suprise is that someone else is finally saying it.

  3. The volcanoes wouldn’t necessarily have to melt the ice to increase ice loss: By creating a layer of melt water at the bottom of the glacier (water, being petty much incompressible would bear the weight of the ice above)would reduce friction. This could speed up the ‘flow’ of the glacier into the sea.

  4. PBS television did a program called Nova, that actually attributed the ice flow to a volcano heating up underneath the Antartic ice cap. I think this was shown about six years ago.

  5. The Polar ice doesnt melt from warm air! Most of the time the air above the poles is well below zero. Physics boys! When will the scam end.

  6. This idea of measuring the temperature of the mantle below the antarctic continent “using radar and other imaging technology” seems like poppycock to me. The mantle is below the Moho or Mohorovichich Discontinuity which occurs from 5 to 70 Kilometers deep depending whether you are measuring from deep ocean bottoms or from a continental landmass. I seriously doubt the ability of our current technology to take actual measurements of the temperature of the Earth’s mantle. Measuring the temperature of the Continental crust below the ice is quite likely
    what is going on here.
    5 to 70 km = 3.1 to 43.4 Miles! and this is not counting the thickness of Antarctic continental landmass to the Moho layer!

  7. Andrew says:
    May 2, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Andrew, mantle temperature as a function of density can be inferred by a technique known as ‘seismic tomography’ wherein anisotropy in the mantle, or asthenosphere, can be detected by variation in pressure wave velocities as read from seismic stations. Hot spots and subducting slabs can be resolved using this technique. Therefore it isn’t quite poppycock. Finding subglacial vulcanism might be a stretch given the continental crust believed to be beneath much of Antarctica.

    Depth to the Mohorivicic Discontinuity in this case would be at the high end of your value range. Nonetheless, tomography might be able to detect inhomogenieties in the cratonic crust indicative of magma bodies or volcanic necks, if they exist at all. Intracratonic volcanism is not out of the question, but less likely in the middle of a continental mass. Antarctica’s volcanoes are concentrated along the Antarctic Peninsula, which is a a continental-margin orogenic feature. As yet none have been detected under the main icecap (and there are probably none there).

    Climate researchers are probably trying to find a cause for the observed ice loss which cannot happen from atmospheric temperatures which are below freezing most of the year. Good luck with that.

    • WHAT observable ice loss? It has been my impression that the Antarctic ice fields have been growing, not shrinking, in spite of the loss of the ice shelf over the area that you say has volcanism.

    • re: Plasticity and ice, the following quote is from Geology Illustrated 1966, Library of Congress Card Cat #66-16380.

      At “…depth of about 200 feet in glacier ice below which the ice flows plastically but above which it cracks and rides along as a brittle carapace.”

      Even rock salt is subject to plasticity at depth:

      “In rock salt this boundary is at a depth of at least several thousand feet. In limestone, to judge from laboratory experiments, it is at a depth of at least several miles. In average plutonic and metamorphic rocks, by analogy, it is presumed still deeper-perhaps somewhere between 10 and 25 miles; it may be a poorly defined zone rather than a sharp boundary.”

  8. Somewhat Makes sense. Weakest part of a Glacier are the sides, and a reason why they could be breaking off and collapsing into the water is because they are being heated from the bottom. Hmmm.

    This simulation pretty much gives you the idea when you get a small stream of water under ice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Du54ipxGYE

  9. And the CO2 percentage and Oxygen percentage together with all the other gasses, howcome the percentage levels always stay the same?
    Answer: It is created like this and will stay like this.

  10. The article, although it does mention factors that might cause ice to melt, has all the flavor of a typical climate change hype. I have to wonder, even from comments here to this article – WHAT ice loss are we discussing here? I have read dozens of articles – including on this site – that contend that the ice load on Antarctica is growing, not shrinking. Yet several comments have talked about finally an explanation of the ice loss. Huh?

    • I think the ice loss spoken of is of the ice shelf type. Ice shelves are actually floating on the water, and are subject to melting from changes in ocean temperatures and currents beneath them.
      Ice shelves are not fed so much by glaciers as by the passing of seasons.
      Antarctic Ice Shelves grow in S. Hemi. Winter, and shrink in N. Hemi. Winter.

      Meanwhile the central continental portion of Antarctica continues to accumulate ice… where’s that picture of the buried crane? Only the top was sticking out last time I saw it.

      • Something else to consider as for what cause the ice shelves to be breaking up is that there seems to be a slight drop in sea level. Even if the drop is only 1 mm or so, that causes a lot of “hanging weight” that helps the ice to break along fracture lines. I would assume the drop in sea level at the poles would be more extreme than the drop along the equator, due to rotation.

    • TomO It has been in fact growing for a number years now, people can see for them selves on the (WATTS UP WITH THAT SEA ICE Page), and the arctic has not decreased sense the PDO flipped to cold in 2007.

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