Scientists uncover largest volcanic region on Earth under West Antarctica


A remote survey suggested by third-year university student discovered 91 volcanoes in a massive region known as the West Antarctic Rift System. The volcanoes range in height from 100 m to 3 850 m (328 to 12 631 feet).

A study conceived by a third-year student at the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, Max Van Wyk de Vries, has revealed that West Antarctica’s vast ice sheet conceals almost 100 newly discovered volcanoes. Max came up with the idea by analyzing publically available radar mapping data of Antarctica.

He proposed his study to researchers in the School, who were impressed by the quality of Max’s work and used their expertise to verify the presence of the volcanoes.

Geologists and ice experts say the range has many similarities to East Africa’s volcanic ridge, which is currently acknowledged to be the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.

They analyzed the shape of the land beneath the ice using measurements from ice-penetrating radar, and compared the findings with satellite and database records, as well as geological information from aerial surveys.

As a result, they found 91 previously unknown volcanoes, ranging in height from 100 m to 3 850 m (328 to 12 631 feet).

The peaks are concentrated in a region known as the West Antarctic Rift System, spanning 3 500 km (2 147 miles) from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf to the Antarctic Peninsula.


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