In addition to 47 already-known volcanoes, experts have discovered 91 new volcanoes in western Antarctica, making it is the most volcanic area of the planet, even more so than the eastern edge of Africa, which until now was considered the most concentrated volcanic area.
No region of the planet Earth awakens as many passions and keeps as many mysteries as the Antarctic continent.
However, the more we explore and research it the more it amazes us. Slowly the icy desert has begun to reveal some of its best-kept secrets.
The last of them was discovered by geologists at the University of Edinburgh, who led by glaciologist Robert Bingham discovered 91 volcanoes under the Antarctic ice.
This amazing discovery means that the west coast of the peninsula and the Antarctic continent is the most volcanic area of the planet, even more so than the eastern edge of Africa, which until now was considered the most concentrated volcanic area.
The finding was published in a special issue of the journal of the British Royal Geological Society.
The study involved the analysis of measurements made by previous research and the use of ice-penetrating radar, transported by plane or vehicles, to explore wide strips of western Antarctica.
It was there where scientists discovered 91 volcanoes, some of which measure nearly 4 thousand meters in height.
However, this discovery is much more than a curious one. Experts warn that if the Antarctic Ice melts due to by global warming, and the volcanoes switch ON, it would destabilize the Antarctic ice sheet and its sea flow would be abruptly accelerated.
Therefore, it will be important to determine, as soon as possible, the likelihood of these volcanoes awakening.
Experts warn that even though the eruptions may not reach the surface, they could melt the ice located beneath and drastically destabilize the continent resulting in more than worrying consequences.
“If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilize the ice sheets of western Antarctica,” said glacier expert Robert Bingham, one of the studies authors. “Anything that induces the melting of ice – which an eruption certainly would – is likely to accelerate the flow of ice into the sea.”
“The major question is: how active are these volcanoes? That is something we need to determine as quickly as possible.”
The newly found volcanoes range in size from 100 to 3,850 meters.
All of them are covered beneath thick layers of ice—in some regions more than 4 kilometers in thickness.
“We were amazed,” Bingham said. “We did not expect to find anything like that number. We have almost trebled the number of volcanoes known to exist in West Antarctica. We also assume there are even more on the bed of the sea that lies under the Ross ice shelf, so that I think it is very likely this region will turn out to be the densest region of volcanoes in the world, greater even than east Africa, where mounts Nyiragongo, Kilimanjaro, Longonot and all the other active volcanoes are concentrated.”