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There's something unusual – and very, very hot – going on beneath the ice sheets of Antarctica.
A new study has shown that the Antarctic Ice Sheet at the South Pole has a giant “hotspot” – triple the size of London – under its bedrock.
As reported in the journal Scientific Reports this week, the freakishly hot zone is not likely to melt away Antarctica any time soon. However, the researchers note that its extreme heat has caused a 100-by-50 kilometer (62-by-31 mile) area of the ice layers to sag and droop downward, as you can see in the graphic below.
We analyse ice-penetrating radar data upstream of South Pole revealing a ~100 km long and 50 km wide area where internal ice sheet layers converge with the bed. Ice sheet modelling shows that this englacial layer configuration requires basal melting of up to 6 ± 1 mm a−1 and a geothermal flux of 120 ± 20 mW m−2, more than double the values expected for this cratonic sector of East Antarctica.
High heat flux values within a craton are due to radiogenic granitoids in the upper crust, which give rise to local geothermal anomalies. ... The presence of this sample indicates that although sparse, it is reasonable to infer that high heat producing granitoids exist in the South Pole region of East Antarctica. Additionally, it is important to consider that radiogenic intrusions could be buried and hence be more widespread than erratics alone appear to indicate.
We therefore propose that hydrothermal circulation, influenced by a fault system, is a potential additional explanation for the high amplitude of the geothermal anomaly we model.
Where is this in relation to Lake Vostok? That’s a really big place but it makes me wonder if it’s part of what has kept the lake liquid.
wasn't there a rather large (for Antarctica) earthquake in the area in the very recent past?
GEOFON standard1 2018-08-27 20:09:24 5.6 61.85°S 58.49°W