(Image Credit: Doug Wiens)
Researchers have revealed that earthquake activity deep below West Antarctica reveal an active volcano.
The discovery, published on November 17th in the Nature Geoscience Journal, finally confirms suspicions long held of volcanic activity below the massive West Antarctic ice sheet. While several volcanos pop up along the coast and the offshore islands, this is the first active volcano found far from the coastline.
“This is really the golden age of discovery of the Antarctic continent,” said Richard Aster, a co-author of the study and a seismologist at Colorado State University. “I think there’s no question that there are more volcanic surprises beneath the ice.”
The research project headlined POLENET, was originally intended to reveal the structure of the Earth’s mantle, the layer beneath the Earth’s crust.
Two earthquake swarms struck beneath the researcher’s feet in January 2010 and March 2011, not far from the Executive Committee Range in the Marie Byrd Land region of the continent. Researchers later discovered that the tremors, known as deep long-period earthquakes (DLP’s), were almost identical to the DLP’s under active volcanoes in Alaska and in Washington.
“Its an amazing story,” said Amanda Lough, the study’s lead author and graduate student in seismology at Washington University in St. Louis.
“We can say with pretty high confidence that there wasn’t an eruption while we were out there,” Lough told LiveScience’s OurAmazingPlanet. “We had people installing [seismometer] stations and flying airborne radar over the ice. But from the bed topography, we can see there is something building up beneath the ice.”
Check out the entire article here at LiveScience.